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Saturday
Aug272016

Lemon Pudding Cake 

 

 

 

I had lemons, I had buttermilk and wanted cake. So, when my NYTimes “what to cook” email came through featuring this recipe, again, I took it as a culinary sign that lemon pudding cake was in my future.

     This cake was a snap to make. I was a little skeptical about it separating and turning into sponge on top and custard on the bottom. But, like the magic that baking is - it happened. One batter two layers.

     Well, I don’t believe in magic (since I’m a muggle – sigh) and we know baking is actually a science, I wanted to know the “why” behind the magic science. Turns out that during the baking process, the egg whites and flour rise, while the pudding stays at the bottom. The water level in the oven bath helps determine how much pudding there’ll be. The water insulates and slows down the bottom layer’s cooking, which allows the cake portion to form and bake, like magic, I mean science (Thank you, America’s Test Kitchen for the info). A lot of recipes suggest serving this fresh tangy cake warm, I liked it cold. Next time, there’ll be vanilla ice cream and blueberry sauce to go with.

 

Makes 1 8-inch cake

 4 large eggs, separated

Zest from two lemons

2/3 cup lemon juice

1-tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1-cup sugar

½-cup flour

½-teaspoon salt

1½-cups buttermilk

     Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square or round cake pan. Place it in a large roasting pan, fill roasting pan half way up with water. Remove buttered cake pan, and place roasting pan in oven.

     Whisk egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and butter together in a large bowl. Whisk sugar, flour, and salt together in another bowl. Whisk half the sugar mixture into the egg yolks, followed by half the buttermilk. Whisk remaining sugar mixture, then buttermilk, and whisk until smooth.

     Beat egg whites into soft peaks, then carefully fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan, place in water bath and bake until the cake is set, about 35-40 minutes.

Note: Adapted from Julie Moskin’s NYTimes cooking recipe.

 

 

Tuesday
Aug022016

Great British Baking Show - Paul's Pitta Bread - Tech Challenge week #5

 

     This week in the GBBS technical challenge is gluten free pitta bread. I’m slightly out of order here. I’ll make Mary’s magnificent meringue Spanische Windtorte from week 4 at some point when I want to gain one million pounds.

      Let’s get to a few things straight right off the bat. It’s not a true challenge. I know that.

     I have clear advantages. From the start, I know what the challenge is. My recipe isn’t stripped down. I know what it’s “supposed” to look like. I’ve seen others make it with successes and failures.

     And here’s why all that doesn’t matter. You can give the same recipe to now 8  different people and 8 different results get churned out.

     So, I’ll attempt to make Paul Hollywood’s Pitta breads. I’ve never made anything like pittas or flatbreads, but today I’ve 2 hours to get twelve pittas, and there’s Sue’s voice in my ear….BAAAAAKE.

     Well, first off – my dough was not very wet. I used all the water and oil that the recipe called for. It was sticky for a bit, but it soon turned into a smooth dough after kneading it for the minimum time (5 minutes).

     My pitta dough is rising on the sunny windowsill with 1:41 on the clock. So far this has been the least messy challenge, and what I thought was the easiest to make. Although, my typical stupid panic started when I didn’t think my dough was rising. Had I killed the yeast? After about 40 minutes it looks like the dough is rising. There’s lots of waiting around with this challenge, nothing else needs to be done except roll out and bake, obviously I put on the GBBS while I wait and watch. Even though I know that the pittas only need to bake for 10 or so minutes, I do the typical thing I do and rush. With 40 minutes left, I turn out the dough, punch it down and start dividing it in the most stupid irregular ways possible. And THEN don’t even try to make them uniform in size, the clock is in my head and just start rolling any which way. Your supposed to knock back the dough so there aren’t any air bubbles, I didn’t do that and as I rolled I heard popping. UGH…I stress myself out for no good reason. Pittas are out of the oven in 7 minutes.

     Verdict – I had 12 completely irregular pitta breads. While I thought this was turning out to be dead easy, it was a little tricky since I didn’t take my time (shocker). Some pittas looked like and felt like flat breads with no inside pocket. Others had a decent natural pocket that could be filled and others, yet, had a pocket that could be forced open. The color was okay, maybe a little light, but they were cooked through.

     To put it in perspective – I would have come in 8th like Alvin. My pittas were irregular, some were thin and slight, but they were tasty not bland.

     Would I make this again?- YES! And will never buy those store bought pittas again. This is a good recipe for the repertoire.

 

Monday
Jul252016

Peach & Blueberry Pie

 

…Was not what I had intended for these fruits. I had that brief moment of insanity when I thought I’d grab a handful of berries or bite into a peach for something healthy during the day. Well that lasted a Nano second. Each time I circled those peaches on the counter and

moved the berries to a different shelf in the fridge I said to myself, “you really should eat these before they go off.” But I didn’t. I kept circling and moving telling myself tomorrow. And when tomorrow finally came, I had pie. A delicious perfect pie made from perfectly ripe peaches and perfectly sweet blueberries.

     Some recipes I’ve come across call for (what I thought) a crazy amount of sugar,  more than a cup, which I think is unnecessary. I want to taste the fruit, not just a bunch of sugar wrapped up in a crust.

 

For the filling

7 medium peaches – peeled and sliced

1 pint blueberries – picked through

Zest and juice from 1 lemon

½ cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

For the crust

2 cups all purpose flour

¾  cup shortening/lard – chilled and cut in cubes

Ice water

A few tablespoons of milk for top of pie

     Process flour and shortening together in the bowl of a food processor for 30 seconds. If the dough does not form a rough shape, add a little ice water by tablespoon. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface, divide in two equal pieces, shape each piece into a disk. Cover one disk with cling film and refrigerate. Roll disk out 2inches larger than pie plate. 

     Toss the blueberries, peaches, sugar, lemon zest, juice and cornstarch together in a large bowl.


     Spoon into crust, top with 2nd crust rolled out crust, crimp edges, brush all over with milk, score the crust in four places with a sharp knife (this allows steam to escape while baking). Place pie on a rimmed baking tray lined with parchment paper to catch any juicy overflow. Bake in the middle of oven at 425F for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350F, bake for another 30-40 minutes until golden brown and juices are bubbling and thickened. Test to make sure the fruit is done by slipping a sharp knife or tester through the vents in top. The filling should be soft and tender, not mushy. If the crust edges begin to brown too much, cover with foil.

  

 

Tuesday
Jul192016

Great British Baking Show - Paul's Baguettes - Tech Challenge #3

 

 

     This is my third week attempting the GBBS technical challenge. Let’s get to a few things straight right off the bat. It’s not a true challenge. I know that.

     I have clear advantages. From the start, I know what the challenge is. My recipe isn’t stripped down. I know what it’s “supposed” to look like. I’ve seen others make it with successes and failures.

     And here’s why all that doesn’t matter. You can give the same recipe to 12 (in this case 13) different people and 12/13 different results get churned out.

     This week’s challenge was Paul Hollywood’s Baguette recipe. I’ve made a lot of bread with varying degrees of success. I’ve had loaves explode and others fall in the middle. I’ve made plain white bread, rye, spelt, whole-wheat honey, sweet bread, but never attempted a baguette(s). For some reason baguettes scared me, I guess because they’re so quintessentially French and the French really know how to bake.

     I’m not going to let any of that bother me today. I’ve 2 ½ hours to make 4 crusty baguettes. Time starts now, and there’s Sue’s voice in my ear….BAAAAAKE.

     Making the dough with my kitchen aide was a dream. It couldn’t have been easier. With 2:11hours to go the dough is in the plastic container, in the oven with the light on and will stay there until it doubles. Now the recipe I had doesn’t mention anything about kneading by hand. It pretty much lets it all happen in the mixing bowl. So, that’s an advantage for me.

     I must have misplaced my linen couche so I improvised with a piece of canvas I had (no idea why) and a few binder clips (which I have to say I thought was pretty gosh darn clever of me).

 


  

     With 1:21hours to go, I had divided my dough, rolled and pinched the seams, floured and turned them into my makeshift couche. I let them double again.

     So far, this seems like the easiest challenge. These baguettes don’t seem to be THAT difficult at all. I’m actually pretty pleased with myself and a little bit excited. Until the clock starts ticking down and I can’t tell if my loaves are rising (I left them at room temp covered). Now I’m a bit antsy and worried. I’ve written this before, it’s slightly ridiculous on my part - I’M NOT BEING JUDGED. With 36:37 on the clock, I stick my overly floured baguettes in the oven (with a pan of water – which I always do anyway – so Paul Hollywood, you wouldn’t have tricked me with that omission!). Four baguettes out with 12:56 left. I did it.

     Verdict – I had 4 baguettes relatively the same size with the correct cuts on top. They were under proved, with a seam that you could see on the bottom. The structure of my baguette was decent with an “ish” open texture, not great, but good. They were definitely crispy, since they were a touch over baked (I thought), so the color was good a little more than golden.

     To put it in perspective -  My baguettes were not as good as Ian (star baker again). A lot better than Paul (10), Nadia (9), Sandy (7), Dorret (6), and Ugne (5). Mine were most like Flora (2), Tamal (3), Alvin (4) and Matt (8). Basically, under proved, crispy, decent texture, slightly dark, good flavor. I over did it on the flour during baking, but all in all – I thought I’d be mid-div again some where around 5th-6th.

     Would I make it again? Yes. This recipe is a keeper. Straight forward, delicious, and the more you make them the easier they’ll be. Plus you get 4 wonderful homemade loaves of bread in one go or freeze a few for a later date. No longer am I afraid of making baguettes – thank you British Baking Show, Paul and Mary <3.

 

Friday
Jul152016

Great British Baking Show - Paul's Arlettes - Tech Challenge #2

  

 

 

     This is my second week attempting the GBBS technical challenge. Let’s get to a few things straight right off the bat. It’s not a true challenge. I know that.

     I have clear advantages. From the start, I know what the challenge is. My recipe isn’t stripped down. I know what it’s “supposed” to look like. I’ve seen others make it with successes and failures.

     And here’s why all that doesn’t matter. You can give the same recipe to 12 (in this case 13) different people and 12/13 different results get churned out.

     I’m giving myself the same time limit that the bakers get. I know, I know – I’m in the comfort of my own home without a TV crew or judges in my face asking me unnerving questions to shatter my already fragile confidence. So, again, an advantage, but I still thought this would/could be fun. I want to see if I can produce something anywhere close to what Paul and Mary would approve of and/or what it should look like. We shall see.

     This week’s challenge was Paul Hollywood’s Arlettes. I’ve never had an Arlette, but I have made puff pastry, I’ve just never made “reversed” puff pastry. And this recipe looks tricky. Even the full recipe from the BBC Food website is a little vague in certain steps. I’m not going to let any of that bother me, I’ve 2 ½ hours to make the Arlettes. Time starts now, and I can almost hear Sue’s voice….BAAAAAKE.

     The dough recipe was pretty straight-forward, I had no issues there at all. The butter portion of the dough, turned out really, really soft which I guess is normal since it needs to be rolled out. All that went fine, while between the cling film (emphasis while in the cling film). Banged the doughy dough in the freezer to chill and the butter dough in the fridge. Took me about 20minutes (including kneading) to get them both done. At this point I was pretty happy with myself. This wasn’t the sloppy, messy, sticky situation I had last week (yet).

     Time to wrap and book turn for the 1st time and it was a MESS. Let’s keep in mind, I’d already seen this done, and still messed up. After folding the butter around the dough – I rolled, just like the recipe indicated. Well, there was more butter on the rolling pin than on the dough. I scraped the butter back onto the dough, added some flour, put the cling film back on and rolled again. It seemed to look okay, did my book turn and popped the dough back in the freezer.

 

 

     With 57minutes left, and one more turn to go, the dough looked smooth. I was pretty confident that all would work out at this point. 45minutes to go, final turn time, roll and chill, this time with the sugar filling incorporated. Back in the freezer for another 25minutes. Again, the swiss roll looked great and soon I’d have 8 perfect Arlettes.

 

     And this is when the anticipated panic set in. When I cut the Swiss roll, the individual pieces unraveled, leaving little tails. I kept thinking I’m going to have little snails like Paul. With 18miutes on the clock, 8 Arlettes in the oven, tails tucked underneath and rolled flat (I hope).

 

Sticky mess alert

These not so little biscuits needed a solid 10minutes, and they still didn’t crisp up enough (for Paul and Mary’s taste – I could tell). I finally pulled them out with 6:26 on the clock to cool.

     Verdict –  Looking at the mine, they definitely weren’t thin enough, like Nadiya’s. She came in 9th. Also, they were a bit chewy in the middle, Tamale (8th) had the same problem, but like Ian’s they were crispy and chewy, so I’m giving myself some credit there. Ian came in 3rd. Paul’s Arlettes (10th) had tails, so did mine, but I rolled them under, the judges would never have known (yeah right).

     To put it in perspective – Overall, I had 8 Arlettes, with distinct layers and swirl, they were a bit thicker, but were crispy, if not a little chewy in the middle. I think I’d have come in mid-div, and be safe from going home.

     Would I make these on my own? Only if I was bored stupid and felt a compelling desire to practice my “reverse” puff pastry technique. Here’s what’s fun about these challenges – I’m learning something new each week. It’s really a good way to gain baking knowledge. Bring on the next challenge! 

 

Thursday
Jul072016

Tomato & Corn Salsa - Summer In A Bowl

 

     

 

     It’s summer so that means fresh local tomatoes and fresh local corn. And right on cue this NYTimes Cooking recipe popped up on my news feed. It’s easy. It’s fresh. This salsa hits the sweet, hot, and tart tastes. One little change I did make was to blanch and peel the tomatoes. I also used nice meaty, ripe, plum tomatoes. Just one note of warning – the recipe calls for you to season to taste. Well, you’ll probably end up, spoon in hand, unable to stop tasting. It’s really that good. Simple ingredients combined for a big taste. 

Tuesday
Jul052016

Great British Baking Show - Mary's Walnut Layer Cake - Tech Challenge #3

If you’re one of the 13 million fans of The Great British Baking Show or GBBS on PBS then you’ll get this and might have even done it yourself.

     I’m hooked, follow along each week and fall in love with the bakers. I feel their pain when there’s a disaster in the kitchen. I admire them for making their signature bakes, blind technical challenges, and showstoppers on a time limit in front of a camera. I couldn’t do it, no way and I’m a pretty experienced cook/baker.

     So, for fun I thought I’d put myself through the GBBS tech challenges.

     Let’s get to a few things straight right off the bat. It’s not a true challenge. I know that.

     I have clear advantages. From the start, I know what the challenge is. My recipe isn’t stripped down. I know what it’s *supposed” to look like. I’ve seen others make it with successes and failures.

     And here’s why all that doesn’t matter. You can give the same recipe to 12 (in this case 13) different people and 12/13 different results get churned out.

     I’m giving myself the same time limit that the bakers get. I know, I know – I’m in the comfort of my own home without a TV crew or judges in my face asking me unnerving questions to shatter my already fragile confidence. So, again, an advantage, but I still thought this would/could be fun. I just want to see if I can produce something anywhere close to what Paul and Mary would approve of and/or what it should look like. We shall see.

     This week’s challenge was Mary’s Walnut Layer Cake. A sponge, with buttercream filling, caramelized walnuts, and meringue icing.  I’ve made cakes with walnuts in them, I’ve made buttercream, I’ve caramelized nuts and made meringue icing. This should be easy…right? I have 1 hour and 45 minutes to get it done. Time starts now – BAAAAAKE.

     First almost disaster – only put three eggs in the batter instead of four – saw the lone egg before I added the flour mixture – disaster averted.

     2nd batch of walnuts look pretty good –1st batch was a sticky, glob of a mess.

 

   54:22 to go – cakes are out. While they were baking I made the buttercream and stuck it in the fridge. Next is the cooked icing – fingers crossed.

     I started the meringue icing before I spread the buttercream on the layers – CRAP. Now the buttercream is a little to cold to spread, and the layers aren’t totally cool yet.

     This on the clock thing is praying on my mind. I feel like I have to get it all done…NOW. Which is so wrong as I’ve seen in many episodes.

     Also, I was so worried about the cooked icing that I spread the buttercream on the warmish layers and watched them slide – aaand, I put the top layer on upside down. Now I've got something that looks like it belongs in a Whoville bakery, not the gingham alter. 


     While trying to check the consistency of my marshmallowy icing – I lifted the whisk [electric] still whisking away and gave myself, and the surrounding area a nice sticky shower. I needed a set of tiny windshield washers for my glasses. I’m nervous for no reason – I’M NOT BEING JUDGED.

      So now I’m scared ABOUT the time, and scared OF the icing and Mary and Paul [who don’t exist in my kitchen]. I toyed with the idea of taking the icing off the hot water and continue whisking it until it cools – that’s the way I’ve made this stuff before – heat and whisk until the egg whites are a little frothy and the sugar is dissolved – Igotthis.Iknowthis.

     Well I didn’t do that.

 

I decided to continue on with the disaster in the bowl and once again, sprayed myself and kitchen with the now gooey, runny white stuff [wish I took a picture to show the hilarity of it]. I even had time to redo the icing, but for some reason the idea of being on the clock made me forget all sense of any baking technique. I was in grab, go, goop, momentum, all because of the DAMN CLOCK.

     I completed the challenge with 16:31 minutes to spare, but I could have used the time better – I need better time management - I screwed up the easiest tech challenge.

     Verdict – the cake turned out okay. There were a few larger pieces of walnuts in there [which I didn’t mind, [but old blue eyes probably would have had something to say]. I thought it was on the tough side, possibly over cooked. My layers were even. The buttercream was fine, but due to spreading it on warmish layers, it eeked out of the edges.

  

     The second batch of walnuts were, also, fine. But I placed them wrong on the cake [again, I even knew how they should have been placed]. I tried to move them around, but they left funny marks. The cooked icing? Effing disaster. A Runny, grainy, mess.

    To put my tech challenge in perspective [with my other contestants] - my walnut cake was most like Stu’s on the icing side and Ian’s on the cake side. I had height, I had even layers, I had decent butter cream, some larger chunks of walnuts and grainy icing. I think I’d have been 11th in the challenge. That was Stu. He went home.

     I’m already nervous for next week’s challenge. I had no pressure except the timer on my iPhone and that’s what I turned out? I DON’T know how they do it.

  

Sunday
Jul032016

I Made Crack Pie And Thought It Was...

 

     …one of the most overrated desserts - ever. Clearly I'm not a Milk Bar cult member. Crack Pie [wait for it] ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s just not. 

     I had heard nothing but raves, raves, raves, about this addictive confection and curiosity got the best of me. Twice. Yeah, I made it twice. Why? I didn’t think that something SO good could look SO bad. The first one looked blah, uninteresting. The second pie wasn’t much better, hence the liberal dusting of confectioner’s sugar in all of the pictures I saw online. And the filling? It’s is just a bunch [a whole bunch] of butter and sugar.  I get how that appeals, not exactly caramel, but still gooey. I just think it’s BORING.

     Which brings me to what I liked about the pie - the oatmeal cookie crust.

Great idea, so great that I’ve logged the recipe in my repertoire and will use it the next time I make a cheesecake. Goodbye boring graham crackers. Hello crunchy, oatmeal cookie crust.

     Here’s the Bon Appetit recipe I used. This is in no way a slight about the recipe – it works and you’ll know it works when your pie comes out looking like a mess that needs to be covered with confectioner’s sugar. If you don’t want to make your own Crack Pie – you can pick one up for a pricey $44.00 at a Momofuku Milk Bar – that alone should break you of the crack addiction.

 

 

 

Sunday
Jun192016

Vanilla Genoise with Mascarpone Cream and Fresh Strawberries

 

I saw a recipe for a Strawberry Cassata on the NYT Cooking website the other day and it looked so appetizing. A light sponge cake, soaked in vodka laced syrup, layered with sweetened fresh ricotta and topped with berries. While that recipe wasn’t a “traditional” cassata – no candied fruit on top and no marzipan. It did get me thinking about making a copycat dessert. So I did.

 

For the cake: 

3 large eggs, room temperature

6 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for dusting

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

1-teaspoon lemon zest

For the Mascarpone Cream:

1-cup heavy cream

8oz. mascarpone cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

16oz. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

     Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper, butter paper and dust entire pan with sugar, tap out excess. Whisk vanilla into cooled, melted butter – set aside.

     Beat eggs, sugar and lemon zest together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on high, until a thick, ribbon forms when the paddle is lifted. This will take at the very least 5 minutes - don’t under beat.

     Remove bowl from stand, sift flour over mixture and fold in until incorporated. Add ½ cup of batter to butter and vanilla, gently fold together until completely mixed, fold butter mixture back into batter. Spread batter into the prepared pan, smooth top. Bake for 25 minutes until top springs back when lightly pressed and a tester inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan until you can handle it, run a knife around the edge of pan, and turn out onto a cake rack. Cool completely then use a serrated knife to cut in half making two layers.

     Whisk cream, sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Whisk in mascarpone until smooth.

     Place bottom slice of cake on a plate, cut side up. Spread with ¾ of mascarpone cream. Place strawberries in a circle starting from the edge, filling in until cream is covered. Cover with top slice, spread remaining cream and decorate with strawberries.

     Keep chilled until ready to serve.

 

Thursday
Jun162016

Moo-Shu Chicken with Pancakes - Better "Take-Out" "In"

 

 

Mark Bittman's Pad Thai recipe  was a game changer, for me, in the whole scheme of it's possible to make a better "take-out" In, than "taking-out" take Out.

So, when I came across the America's Test Kitchen recipe for Moo-Shu Pork I was intrigued. But when I made it I was like "meh," This. Is. Bland.

I'll get right down to what I did to unbland the Moo-Shu. Added grated ginger and garlic at every step. Obvi substituted chicken thighs for pork, and cut the hoisin sauce with lots of fresh lime juice. 

One thing I'll suggest, don't substitute tortillas for the super thin pancakes that the recipe calls for. They're a little fiddly, but SO easy to get the knack of making, and well worth it. They turn out fresh and light, rather than chewy, and rubbery.  

 

 For the pancakes – will make 12 super thin pancakes

1 ½ cups flour

¾ cup boiling water

Vegetable oil for frying

 

Mix the flour and water together, in a large bowl, until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out on a floured surface and kneed until smooth, about 4 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.

 

Roll dough into a 12 inch log, cut into 12 one in pieces. With cut side up, press each piece into a 3 inch round. Brush 6 of the rounds with sesame oil, place one plain one on each of an oiled one and roll out to a 7 inch round on a floured surface. Heat ½ teaspoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan, when oil shimmers, wipe almost clean. Cook each pancake about 1 minute on each side. The edges should be crispy and a few brown spots should appear. Let cool slightly and pull apart. Stack moist side up and cover with plastic wrap.

 

For the chicken marinade

12 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and sliced thin

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon grated garlic

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine

 

For the vegetables 

2 tablespoon grated garlic

1 oz dried shitake mushrooms

8 oz fresh shitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon rice wine

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons grated ginger

2 tablespoons grated garlic

2 teaspoons cornstarch

8 oz sliced bamboo shoots

2 eggs, slightly beaten

3 cups shredded green cabbage

6 green onions, sliced, white and light green parts separated

 

Lime Hoisin sauce to serve

 

Marinate the chicken with the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, toss to coat, cover with plastic wrap. Let marinate for 30 minutes.

Soak dried mushrooms in boiling water until reconstituted and soft. Drain reserving 1/3 cup of soaking liquid. Add 1 tablespoon rice wine, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 teaspoons cornstarch to soaking liquid, set aside.

Trim tough stems from mushrooms and thinly slice. Add a little oil to a wok or non stick frying pan, add eggs and scramble lightly, until moist, about 15 seconds. Set aside in a large bowl and mash with fork. Add fresh shitakes to pan, sauté until dark brown in color, add to eggs.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in same pan, add whites of green onions, cook until well browned. Increase heat, add chicken and spread out in an even layer. Cook until brown, about 1, toss until cooked through. Add chicken to the egg and mushroom mixture. 

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan, add bamboo shoots, dried mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant and heated through, about 1 minute. Add cabbage, 2 tablespoons of greens from onions, and mushroom soaking liquid. Continue cooking until the cabbage has wilted, but still crunchy. Return chicken and egg mixture to pan, reheat. Top with additional green onions. 

To assemble: spread a little hoisin sauce on a pancake, add filling. Fold bottom of pancake up to filling, fold in sides against filling, then roll up into a package.

 

 

 

Sunday
Nov162014

Buche de Noel - The #1 It's not Christmas Without recipe...

 

 

     This sponge cake is from Betty Crocker circa 1986. It’s the only recipe I’ve used and it’s never, ever failed me. This is really basic, so it’s easy to tweak it any way you like to suit your own tastes. For instance, instead of Chantilly cream you could make a peppermint whipped cream, or add Chambord instead of vanilla to the cake. The variations are endless, just not in this house.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE SPONGE CAKE

4 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3-cup water

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

1-teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Confectioner’s sugar

     Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15x10x1 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

     Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high until thick and lemony in color (this could take up to 5 minutes). Gradually beat in sugar on low speed. Then beat in water and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Do not over beat. Pour batter into prepared pan, spread to corners using a spatula.

     Bake 12-15 minutes until center springs back when pressed with finger. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with confectioner’s sugar. Loosen edges of cake from sides of parchment paper and turn upside down onto a tea towel. Peel away paper; trim any stiff edges from rectangle. While hot, roll cake and towel up from the narrow end. Let cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

FOR THE CHANTILLY CREAM FILLING

½ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1-tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Beat cream, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until stiff peaks form, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4-4-½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1-tablespoon vanilla

¼ cup milk

     Whisk flour and cocoa together in a medium bowl. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Gradually beat in sugar mixture on low speed until blended. Gradually beat in vanilla and enough milk until the frosting is smooth. If the frosting becomes too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar, if it too thick, add milk by the teaspoon.

 

Sunday
Nov092014

Panforte

 

     Panforte is cross between nougat and fruitcake, a bread and a candy. I think this is one of the Christmassiest desserts ever. For me it's the aroma that wafts around the kitchen when it's baking.

     There's nothing to be intimidated by, it's not tricky to make just a bit sticky to make. The honey syrup hardens really quickly so you have to move fast from mixing to getting the batter into the pan. What’s nice is that this Italian spiced “bread” keeps for ages, easily a month or two wrapped well at room temperature.

 Ingredients

2 cups toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

2 cups candied citron mixture (like lemon, lime, orange, cherry)

Grated zest from one lemon

¾ cup flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-cup sugar

¾ cup honey

     Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Spay paper and sides of pan with cooking spray.

     Mix the almonds, citron, zest, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together in a large bowl.

     Heat the sugar and honey in a small pan on low heat stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth, bubbles slightly and reads 240°F on a candy thermometer. Pour honey syrup into nut mixture and stir well, the batter stiffens quickly, so work fast. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula or your fingers when it’s cool enough to handle. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the center feels like soft custard and your finger comes away clean. Do not over bake. The panforte will firm up as it cools. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, run a knife around the edge to loosen, remove pan and cool completely. Remove the bottom and parchment paper, sprinkle heavily with confectioner’s sugar.

It's All Delicious note: I mushed two recipes together; one from David Lebovitz and the other from The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

 

Thursday
Feb132014

Irish Whiskey Bread Pudding with Spiked Apples, Raisins & Vanilla Whiskey Sauce

 

Bread pudding is wonderful.  It’s comfy, warm and delicious when done right.  When not, it’s rubbery and dry.  This recipe is SO right.  Ample amounts of Challah, cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla create a soufflé like pudding.  Apples and raisins soused in whiskey add to the texture and flavor.  The sauce is not too sweet and has a great whiskey bite.  The eggy Challah is perfect for this, but another light bread would work as well, just stay away from the pre sliced bread aisle loaves, the thin pieces would pretty much disintegrate and turn to mush.

So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day make this with a warm, peated, single malt Irish whiskey.

Ingredients

6-8 servings

For the apples and raisins:

2 tablespoons butter

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

½ cup raisins

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup light brown sugar

1 cup Irish whiskey

 

For the bread:

8oz of Challah bread cut into 1 inch cubes (that’s about ½ a loaf)

¾ cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 ½-2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

For the whiskey sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 cup Irish whiskey plus 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons cornstarch

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Toast bread cubes until golden.

Pour ¼ whiskey over raisins and set aside.

 Melt butter in a medium skillet; add apples, sprinkle with cinnamon and cook over low heat until the apples soften, stirring often. Add sugar, vanilla and raisins with liquid.  Continue cooking until sugar melts and apples become sticky; stir often so the apples don’t scorch. Add ¾ cup of whiskey, continue to simmer until syrupy. Cool to room temperature (can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated – bring to room temperature before using).   

Whisk 1 ½ cups cream, eggs, ¾ cup granulated sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add bread cubes, apple mixture, stir to combine, making sure all the bread is moist – at this point you may need to add that extra ½ cup of cream. Transfer bread mixture into a greased casserole dish or 6 individual spring form pans. Let stand until the bread absorbs the custard mixture - about 20 minutes. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. The pudding should be puffed, golden and springy/firm, moist not dry, and a tester inserted should come out clean.

While the pudding is in the oven, make the whiskey sauce – whisk sugar, cream, vanilla and 1 cup of whisky in small saucepan, bring to a simmer over low heat. Mix 2 tablespoons of whiskey with cornstarch in a small bowl, whisk into sauce. Continue cooking until sauce begins to boil and thickens. Serve warm with pudding.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday
Jun082012

Lowcountry Shrimp Mac and Cheese

 

Oh yes I did!  Oh yes I really did!  There are two things this dish ain’t– light and cheap.  No point in even trying to pretend – sure you could use a run of the mill cheddar or even Jack cheese if you like.  But what’s the point – that will only give you a plain Mac and Cheese with some shrimp thrown in.  You really want to experience that creamy, nutty, tangy, salty combo that the fontina, Gorgonzola and taleggio produces – coupled with the sweet meaty texture of fresh shrimp – well you’ve just kicked up Mac and Cheese to a new height! 

     If lobster is your thing and you can get it fresh, fresh, fresh – well then have at it.  This is probably one of the best things I have ever made!  P.S. the picture doesn’t do the dish justice – try it and let me know.

 Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients

1 lb fresh local shrimp – shelled, deveined and roughly chopped

2 large shallots – minced

2 cloves garlic – peeled and minced

1-teaspoon fresh thyme

Splash of sherry

Light olive oil

 ½ cup all purpose flour

6 tablespoons butter

4 cups whole milk

16oz fontina cheese, cubed

8oz Taleggio cheese, cubed

8oz Gorgonzola cheese, cubed

¾ of a 1lb pound box of pasta – like fusilli or elbow

Panko breadcrumbs - optional

 

     Preheat oven to 350°F.

     Cook pasta according to directions – cutting cooking time by 2 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

     Cook onions, thyme and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until translucent and fragrant.  Add shrimp, cook until just beginning to turn pink.  Splash with sherry, turn up heat and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes until shrimp is almost cooked through.  Set aside.

     Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat.  Add flour and whisk until smooth.  Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly until smooth and begins to thicken.  Continue cooking until sauce begins to bubble.  Add cheese, stir until cheese melts.  Add shrimp and pasta stir to combine.  Transfer mixture to a large baking dish, sprinkle with panko, bake until bubbly and beginning to brown.  Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 

It’s All Delicious notes:  Make sure you get the freshest shrimp possible – they should smell sweet like the sea.  You could make these into individual servings.  Also, try and keep the pasta size the same as the shrimp – you don’t want a big piece of pasta to overpower the wonderful flavor of the shrimp and cheese trio!   

Monday
May282012

Stir Fry Thai Chicken In A Spicy Sriracha Peanut Sauce

 

 

     I first saw this recipe on the Huffington Post’s Kitchen Daily website.  I loved the idea of a homemade peanut sauce and just happened to have a giant bottle of Sriacha chili sauce in the fridge -  thanks to the Bang Bang chicken recipe I posted yonks ago!  I have been a food blogging slacker lately due to a bunch of reasons I won’t bore anyone with. 

     Anyway, I’m back and here we go.  The original recipe called for poaching chicken…I just don’t care to poach my chicken – salmon and shrimp yes.  Even when I make a chicken salad, I always roast it – the flavor is better and I think the texture is better – that’s just me.

     So when I saw this recipe I thought…hmmm…how could I change it up and make it a little bit more mine?  Here’s my go…

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2 inch pieces

1-½ cups low sodium chicken broth

4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 kaffir lime leaves

½ cup all natural peanut butter

4 teaspoons lime juice

3 teaspoons light agave nectar or 2 teaspoons sugar

2-4 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce

1-teaspoon fish sauce

Canola oil for frying

Steamed snow peas or sliced green onions for garnish

Steamed rice to serve

     Simmer broth, ginger, garlic and lime leaves in a small saucepan over low heat until reduced to 1 cup – approximately 5 minutes.  Discard lime leaves, transfer broth to a blender and process until smooth.  Add peanut butter, limejuice, agave, chili and fish sauce - blend to combine, return sauce to pan and keep warm – whisking occasionally.

     Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add chicken and cook until the pieces begin to turn opaque and brown – approximately 5-8 minutes.  Pour sauce over chicken and continue to simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is completely cooked – another 5-8 minutes.  Serve over rice and garnish with snow peas. 

     It’s All Delicious Note:  Adapted from Ruth Cousineau Huffington Post Kitchen Daily contributor.