December 26, 2008

I’ll be taking an indefinite break from blogging. I’ve been pretty scarce the past few months and I have a good reason. Unfortunately, that good reason is no more. I hope to keep up with TWD after the new year but I need a few weeks off.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and I’ll see you soon hopefully.


Tuesdays with Dorie – Buttery Jam Cookies

December 17, 2008

I have to apologize, ya’ll. I haven’t felt up to posting the past couple weeks. The thought of having to write about food has made me absolutely ill. I’ve had no problem baking, and even made Dorie’s sugar cookies last week but couldn’t bring myself to write about them. Forgive me?

This week’s TWD recipe is hosted by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl. She chose Dorie’s Buttery Jam Cookies which is a recipe I’ve never noticed despite flipping through Dorie’s book a couple times a week. That’s the best part of TWD… I try recipes that I would never have looked twice at.

Anyway, this was a very simple recipe that incorporated jam into the dough. It called for 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger but I had to cut that in half. I can’t stand ginger and even 1/4 teaspoon was too much for me. I used strawberry jam and I think it was perfect for the cookie. The cookies turned out very soft. I saw some TWD’ers referring to them as biscuit-like and I think that describes them better than cookie. My only problem with these cookies is that they seem to get sweeter as the days go by. Or maybe I’m just weird..

To get the recipe, visit Heather and make sure you check out the blogroll.

Herbed Focaccia

December 6, 2008

Yeast bread is by far my favorite thing to make.  Something about it makes me feel powerful.  Like if I can conquer the mighty yeast, then I can do anything.  And yes, I do realize that this makes me a weirdo.

Anyway, whenever I do a pasta with red sauce I always make some kind of yeast bread. Usually just french bread that I slather with garlic butter. This past week I was doing a spinach lasagna and wanted a fun bread to go with it.  My husband loves focaccia (he’s been known the make a special trip to Fresh Market just to pay $8 for a small round of it) so I gave it a go.

I was intimidated at first but the recipe I used was so simple. Instead of kneading, you simply stretch the dough and fold it over itself.  Do that a few times and then press it into a pan with your fingertips. Brush with some herb oil and bake. Really too simple for good bread. But boy was it good.  Husband and little man both loved it and between the two of them went through the entire pan in 2 days.

(Can someone please tell WordPress to stop changing? I’ve only been using it for a few months and I’ve already seen it change twice. Seriously. What is up WordPress?)

Herbed Focaccia Bread
from Annie’s Eats

5 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups water, at room temperature
¼ to ½ cup herb oil (recipe below)

Stir together the flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the oil and water and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the ingredients form a wet, sticky ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. (You may need to add additional flour to firm up the dough enough to clear the sides of the bowl, but the dough should still be quite soft and sticky.)

Sprinkle enough flour on the counter to make a bed about 6 inches square. Using a scraper or spatula dipped in water, transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour and dust liberally with flour, patting the dough into a rectangle. Wait 5 minutes for the dough to relax.

Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough from each end to twice its size. Fold it, letter style, over itself to return it to a rectangular shape. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil, again dust with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Let rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough again; mist with spray oil, dust with flour and cover. After 30 minutes, repeat this one more time.

Allow the covered dough to ferment on the counter for 1 hour. It should swell but not necessarily double in size.

Line a 17×12” sheet pan with baking parchment and proceed with the shaping and panning (instructions below).

Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight (or for up to 3 days).

Remove the pan from the refrigerator 3 hours before baking. Drizzle additional herb oil over the surface and dimple it in. (You can use all of it if you want; the dough will absorb it even though it looks like a lot.) This should allow you to fill the pan completely with the dough a thickness of about ½-inch. Add any other pre-proof toppings desired. Again, cover the pan with plastic and proof the dough at room temperature for 3 hours, or until the dough doubles in size, rising to a thickness of nearly 1-inch.

Preheat the oven to 500° with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Gently place any pre-bake toppings on the dough.

Place the pan in the oven. Lower the oven setting to 450° and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking the focaccia for 5-10 minutes, or until it begins to turn a light golden brown. If you are using any during-baking toppings, sprinkle them on at this point and continue baking an additional 5 minutes or so. The internal temperature of the dough should register 200° (measured in the center), and the cheese, if using, should melt, not burn.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately transfer the focaccia out of the pan onto a cooling rack. If the parchment is stuck on the bottom, carefully remove it by lifting the corner of the focaccia and peeling it off the bottom with a gentle tug.

Allow the focaccia to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Shaping Focaccia:
Drizzle ¼ cup of olive oil over the paper and spread it with your hands or a brush to cover the entire surface. Lightly oil your hands and using a plastic or metal pastry scraper, lift the dough off the counter and transfer it to the sheet pan, maintaining the rectangular shape as much as possible.

Spoon half of the herb oil over the dough. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it simultaneously. Do not use the flat of your hands – only the fingertips – to avoid tearing or ripping the dough. Try to keep the thickness as uniform as possible across the surface. Dimpling allows you to de-gas only part of the dough while preserving gas in the non-dimpled sections. If the dough becomes too springy, let it rest for about 15 minutes and then continue dimpling. Don’t worry if you are unable to fill the pan 100 percent, especially the corners. As the dough relaxes and proofs, it will spread out naturally. Use more herb oil as needed to ensure that the entire surface is coated in oil.

Herb Oil:
Warm ½ cup olive oil over low heat in a small saucepan. Add about 4 tsp. of dried herbs, such as basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, or sage. Add about ¾ tsp. of kosher salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper, and 1-2 finely minced cloves garlic. You may also add paprika, ground cayenne pepper, fennel seeds or onion powder to taste. Allow to remain on low heat for about 1-1 ½ hours to allow the oil to become infused with the flavors.

Store any leftover herb oil in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Linzer Sables

December 3, 2008

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe comes from Noskos of Living the Life.

I was going to sit this one out. Mainly because that’s just what I always tell myself these days, even if I wind up doing it in the end. My other reason for sitting out was that it called for ground nuts, and that would require me to clean the coffee grinder. THEN, a few hours ago I came up with the idea of using ground flax seeds because I always have some on hand.

It worked and the cookies are yummy. Plus they were so simple. The dough came together within minutes and although Dorie says to chill it for 2 hours, I was impatient and only waited 15 minutes. I had no problems whatsoever. I obviously chose to do the sandwich version. My mom just gave me some homemade strawberry jam on Sunday and she’ll be happy to know it was put to good use.

Overall, very good cookies but I doubt I make them again. I’m not big on spiced cookies but my little man loves them! Then again, he’s never been one to turn down a cookie.

To get the recipe, visit Living the Life.

Tuesdays (err… Friday) with Dorie – Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

November 29, 2008

Yeah, it’s Friday and I’m just now posting TWD. But that’s okay but the lovely TWD ladies allowed us to be late since this was a Thanksgiving pie. Vibi of La Casserole Carree chose the Thanksgiving Twofer Pie for us.

I was a little scared of this pie. It’s like a pumpkin pie on the bottom and a pecan pie on top. I like both pumpkin and pecan pies but together? Not so sure. But I went forward with it. I ended up taking it over to my mother-in-law’s for their Thanksgiving celebration and then guess what? I didn’t try it. Wanna know why? Because my sister-in-law was trying to give away her amazing orange cat named Gus so Landon and I were following around my husband going “Pleeeeeassssse?!” all night long. Alas, Gus did not come home with us. I didn’t remember my pie until we were home. 😦

I think I’m going to make it again at Christmas though because all the other TWD posts I’ve read have given it very good reviews. If you want the recipe, go visit Vibi and make sure you actually have a bite of your Twofer pie!

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

November 27, 2008

We’re having an easy Thanksgiving this year. My grandparents are out in the Caribbean somewhere and my Aunt’s family decided not to drive in from New Orleans this year, so it’s just my husband, Landon, and my parents. My mom decided to do a simple dinner and didn’t want my help since I’m so busy studying for finals. Little does she know, I’m doing more procrastinating than anything. I took it upon myself to do desserts and after tasting this fudge, I’m so glad I did.

It’s an understatement to say that my husband is tired of my pumpkin goodies. When he spotted the fudge he literally groaned and said, “Let me guess what that is…” but then he and a friend sat here eating almost half of the fudge! So I guess it’s not that awful. 😉

This was so simple, relatively quick, and obviously good. I even made it without a candy thermometer. Why you ask… because whenever I use a candy thermometer I have to throw it away. It’s just one of my things. And it gets really old buying a candy thermometer ever few months only to throw it away hours later. I’ve officially given up on buying them.

My advice if you’re making this: melt the white chocolate or chop into teeny tiny pieces. I used chips and despite pouring 235 degrees of pumpkin on them, I still have some chunks.

Pumpkin Pie Fudge
from: Annie’s Eats

3 cups sugar

¾ cup unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 tbsp. corn syrup

2 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

9 oz. white chocolate, chopped

7 oz. jar marshmallow crème

1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir together first six ingredients in a 3 ½ – quart saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 234° (soft-ball stage).

Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour into a greased aluminum foil-lined 8-inch square pan. Let stand 2 hours or until completely cool; cut fudge into squares.

Garlic Chicken Farfalle

November 21, 2008

This is one of my family’s favorite meals. My husband requests it at least once a month and always raves and raves about it. But I’ve been bad and have kept it a secret from my blog. Why? It’s white, white, and more white. And that doesn’t make for a pretty picture.

The original recipe calls for a whole stick of butter (!) and a pound of bacon (! again) but I don’t think you need that much of either. I’ve gotten it down to 2 tablespoons of butter and 4 or 5 pieces of bacon (usually turkey but don’t tell my husband!). It also calls for a cup of heavy cream and I use all of that, but I’m sure it could be scaled back.

Garlic Chicken Farfalle

16 oz. Farfalle pasta
1 c. heavy whipping cream
3-4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoons pepper
2 tablespoons butter
4 – 5 pieces of bacon, crumbled
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (12 oz) Lawry’s mesquite marinade with lime juice

Crock pot chicken and bottle of marinade on low for 6 hours. Pull marinated chicken out of the juices, allow to cool a little bit, and shred. Set this aside. About a half-hour before serving, boil the pasta. In a small saucepan, melt butter, add garlic, whipping cream, pepper, parmesan cheese, and crumbled bacon. Whisk together on low heat for 3-4 minutes. In a large bowl, pour over cooked, drained pasta, add chicken and stir through. Sprinkle a little bit more shredded parmesan cheese on top.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Arborio Rice Pudding, White, Black (Or Both)

November 19, 2008

This week’s TWD recipe was chose by Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa. She chosen Dorie’s arborio rice pudding which was a nice change of pace.

When I used to diet, I’d buy the little 90 calorie containers of rice pudding so now whenever I see rice pudding I remember those horrible days. Needless to say, I had originally planned on skipping this week but Pam posted her pictures last night and 5 minutes after seeing them and hearing about how much her family loved it, I was in the kitchen.

I ended up cooking the rice pudding for well over an hour (and ruined my favorite pan in the process). It turned out well. Most of the milk had cooked off for me and it continued to thicken after I put it in the fridge.

I think it’s safe to say that my little boy loved it. The vanilla is gone thanks to him and I’m sure he’ll tackle the chocolate tomorrow. My husband refused to even try it saying “It’s not really a dessert if it has rice in it!” but that’s okay. More for me and the little one.

For the recipe, visit Isabelle and make sure you check out the blogroll to see what everyone else did.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Kugelhopf

November 11, 2008

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Kugelhopf and it was chosen by the lovely Yolanda of The All-Purpose Girl. I had no idea what a Kugelhopf was before a few days ago. When I read Dorie’s description it really didn’t clear things up for me. Part brioche, part cake… what? But that’s just what it is! It looks just like a cake but takes like brioche! And it is freakin’ awesome. I finally finished it yesterday (two day process) and there’s only two thin slices left. Everyone in my house loves it, which rarely happens around here.

The process was a little annoying. First, my dough looked more like batter. I was convinced I had screwed it up. It took about 5 hours to rise (I think Dorie said it should take 2) and then I put it in the fridge overnight. We keep our fridge really cold and it didn’t occur to me to turn it down. So my dough basically froze. It came out in clumps but I put it in a bundt pan anyway and after about 6 hours, it had risen about halway up the pan. I gave up on it ever making it to the top and baked it then.

It was well worth all the trouble and I’ve actually started the hunt for a real Kugelhopf pan so I can make this over and over again. And this is probably the first and last time I will ever say this: The raisins made the bread/cake. They were AMAZING.

Enchiladas in Pumpkin Sauce

November 11, 2008

I get those daily emails from Martha Stewart, you know, all 15 of them. I can’t really tell you why because I rarely even open them but a few weeks ago this recipe came. It sounded fun but I deleted the email anyway. A few days later, I’m flipping through Everyday Food and there it was again. I’ve owned this book for probably a year and never even noticed the recipe so I figured it was a sign. A sign from the pumpkin gods.

I regretted making these as soon as I began. I’ve always made enchiladas with a saucy inside. This was just chicken and green onions. Then I ran out of chicken and had to use some diced ham for a couple of the enchiladas. THEN I got scared of the pumpkin. My beloved pumpkin. It looked disgusting.

But then I tried it. And I wondered why it was good. I kept thinking that the next bite would be gross. Then the next bite. Then the next. And it never was. The ham was a giant mistake but the chicken ones were great. I still would’ve like some sauciness inside the enchiladas but I’ll give that a try next time.

Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce
from: Martha Stewart

2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
6 scallions, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 jalapeno chile, quartered (remove ribs and seeds for less heat, if desired)
1 teaspoon chili powder
8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (6 ounces)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine chicken and scallions. Season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. In a blender, puree pumpkin, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2 1/2 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth (hold top firmly as blender will be quite full). Pour 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dish.
  3. Lay tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly. Roll up tortillas; place, seam side down, in baking dish.
  4. Pour remaining sauce on top; sprinkle with cheese. Place dish on a baking sheet; bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.