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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tall and Creamy Cheesecake Topped with Fresh Blueberries and Raspberries-Tuesdays with Dorie

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I would have loved to play around with this yummy cheesecake if I had more time. With my family visiting, I knew if I was going to get this cheesecake made, I'd have to get up early to prepare it so it will have time to bake for the hour and a half, plus "luxuriate" in the water bath, cool to room temperature and refrigerate before we all went out for the day. However, I misjudged just exactly how long this process would take and our plans had to be altered so I almost regret making it. Apparently, I didn't read Dorie's caveat"Never rush a cheesecake to the table". Despite my breakneck speed in making the cheesecake, it made it to the refrigerator and we were able to enjoy a nice picnic and trail walk at Skidaway State Park near Savannah.

Anne over at AnneStrawberry choice was a good one for a crowd during the holidays. You can find the recipe with some creative twists on her blog and as always, check out the TWD blogroll for other variations of this decadently rich cheesecake.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Real Butterscotch Pudding-Tuesdays with Dorie

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This butterscotch pudding is the real deal, no fake flavors like the boxed version. Do they even make the boxed one anymore? I don't know since I don't buy them. Dorie's Real Butterscotch Pudding chosen by Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews and Suitcases is rich, smooth with a slight kick by adding a few tablespoons of a 12 year old Glenlivet Scotch whiskey. I was able to buy a small airplane size bottle instead of having to put out the big bucks for a full bottle.

The pudding is a little pale for my eyes so will use dark brown sugar next time I make it. I don't think it would make too much difference in the flavor, maybe even a little deeper butterscotch flavor than with the light brown sugar. After all, one of the definitions of butterscotch is "having a golden or tawny brown" color. According to Wikipedia, "Food historians have several theories regarding the name and origin of this confectionery, but none are conclusive. One explanation is the meaning "to cut or score" for the word "scotch", as the confection must be cut into pieces, or "scotched", before hardening. It is also possible that the "scotch" part of its name was derived from the word "scorch"."

Enjoy other posts on Dorie's Real Butterscotch Pudding from the TWD blogroll. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program-Cowgirl Chocolates

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Foodbuzz' Tastemaker program gives those who have signed up an opportunity to sample products from different companies. A wide variety of products can be chosen upon sign-up. If there is a product available in one of the categories checked, Foodbuzz sends an email asking you if you want the product sent to you. It's on a first come basis. A few weeks ago,I chose to participate in the Tastemaker's program excited about getting food and food related products to try. When I got the email from Foodbuzz asking if I would like this product, I replied "yes" promptly.

Yesterday, I received a beautifully wrapped box of chocolates from Cowgirl Chocolates, a Foodbuzz featured publisher. When I saw that the chocolate flavors comprised of not only dark and light chocolate with nuts and fruity flavors, but with some spicy chilies such as the habanero, I was hooked. I like chocolates, but don't have a passion for it as some people do, but put some heat from chiles in the chocolate and my passion for chocolate index fires up.
Marilyn Lysohir, founder of Cowgirl Chocolates, mixed a notable career as a ceramics sculptor with a knowledge of chocolate making learned from her first job in a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania. Her chocolates have won many awards and has been featured on various programs on the Food Network.
Cowgirl Chocolates make great gifts for chocolate lovers everywhere.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Buttery Jam Cookies-Tuesdays with Dorie

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I had to adorn my buttery jam cookies with Christmas finery because they looked a little "plain Jane" to me. However, with the tangy apricot flavor and the added chopped crystallized ginger, the cookies were anything but plain. A bit like a biscuit as Dorie pointed out in her introduction to the recipe, the cookies were delicate and crumbly like a shortbread. I had mine with a cup of hot cocoa and thought it a perfect pairing.

I was out of apricot jam, but had some apricot paste I had bought this past week. The flavor is quite intense which is what I wanted to achieve. If you decide to use a fruit paste in the cookies, you will need to microwave it some to get the consistency of jam. Each little bite of cookie had some of the apricot flavor and the crystallized ginger flavor. The dough was difficult to work with, but found that if I wet my hands, I could form a smooth ball, then could flatten them some so they would look more like a cookie. They would be great rolled in confectioners' sugar like Mexican wedding cookies.

Heather from Randomosity and the Girl made a good choice for a not-too-sweet treat for the Holidays. You can find the recipe on her blog or on page 80 of "Baking From My Home to Yours".

Placed in a mug or tea cup with some hot chocolate mix or a favorite blend of tea,the cookies would make a perfect food gift for the Holidays. Next weeks pick, Real Butterscotch Pudding comes from Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Beautiful Orchid for Barbara and a Bowl of Mango Coconut Ice Cream

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Among other meanings, the orchid signifies refinement, elegance and strength.My refreshing tangy bowl of mango coconut ice cream goes to Barbara, who possesses all these attributes.

We in the food blogging world are saddened that Barbara is having to deal with more chemotheraphy for cancer. Bron and Ilva have organized an event to send Barbara virtual hugs with soothing food to let her know that we are all cheering for her as she goes through this difficult time.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Barbara. Hope you enjoy this flavorful and soothing mango coconut ice cream.



Mango Coconut Ice Cream

1 1/4 cups canned or fresh mango purée
3/4 cup well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup or sugar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup half and half
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

Toasted coconut for garnish

Combine mango puree, coconut milk, heavy cream, corn syrup or sugar, orange juice,zest and vanilla. Stir well.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar and a large pinch of salt together in a medium bowl.In a heavy saucepan, bring half and half just to a boil. Temper the whisked egg sugar mixture by whisking in a little of the hot cream mixture. Repeat one or two times, then pour egg mixture into the saucepan with the hot cream. Whisk constantly over low heat until mixture reaches 170°-175°F. Strain custard through sieve and cool before placing in refrigerator. Chill overnight.

Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Freeze in a covered container for at least two hours before serving. If frozen hard, let stand on counter until softened enough to scoop. Garnish with toasted coconut. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Smoky Chile Roasted Pumpkin (Pepitas) Seeds

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Pepitas are hulled seeds from the calabaza family, better known as the pumpkin, a winter squash. The seeds are used extensively in Yucatecan dishes such pipian verde, an ancient Mexican dish where the pepitas are browned in oil along with garlic, chiles, spices, ground into a paste and made into a sauce which can be served over roast chicken or enchiladas. The Yucatan region of Mexico produces a large number of commercial pumpkin seeds. A few years ago, you could only find pepitas in health food stores or markets in the Southwestern part of the United States, but they are readily available in specialty food stores and Mexican groceries.

Pepitas are not only a rich source of magnesium, which helps build and strengthen bones and keeps the circulatory system running smoothly, but are packed with protein Vitamin B and Iron as well as monounsaturated and omega6 polyunsaturated fats. To boost the protein in salads or bread, add a few tablespoons of pepitas. Just recently, I made a maple nut granola which includes pepitas along with other healthful seeds and nuts.

As you probably know from a previous post that I am a great fan of Mexican and Southwestern foods. In a cookbook featuring chipotle peppers, I found a recipe for chili-roasted pepitas using a homemade smoky chili powder. They were an instant hit with my family as a snack and the leftover roasted seeds were sprinkled over a pork chile verde we had for dinner that night.

Smoky Chili Powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chipotle-chili powder
1 tablespoon ancho-chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano, crumbled
2 tablespoons garlic powder

Makes 1/2 cup.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, transfer to an airtight container. Keeps for about a month.

Chili-Roasted Pepitas


1 cup raw green pumpkin seeds(pepitas)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Smoky Chili Powder (above)
Salt to taste

Over medium heat, preheat a 10" cast iron skillet or a heavy skillet. In a bowl, combine the seeds, oil, smoky chili powder and salt to taste. Add the mixture to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.

Makes 1 cup.

Recipe from "Chipotle, Smoky Hot Recipes for All Occasions" by Leda Scheintaub.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Chriesi of Almond Corner.

One year ago on Cafe Lynnylu-Cinnamon Beef Noodles

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies-Tuesdays with Dorie

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I was in the windy and cold city of Chicago the week after Thanksgiving so missed two weeks of Tuesdays with Dorie. Chicago is one of my favorite food cities and many of my favorite restaurants are just a block or two from our hotel. Good thing, too, as it was freezing cold there. Now to these crisp, buttery little beauties-Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies, chosen at a perfect time for the Holidays by Ulrike of Küchenlatein.

Such a perfect all-around cookie, the sugar cookies are basically a blank canvas. You can bake and decorate them in any way, shape or form. However, due to my being "cookie decorating challenged", I just flavored them with orange zest, made slice and bake cookies, sprinkled them with sparkling sugar and tied a big bow around them. I'm looking forward to seeing what other TWD bakers have done with their sugar cookies. Maybe I can get some tips on decorating.

After chilling the roll of dough for 2 hours, I popped them in the freezer for about 30 minutes and was pleased that they were easy to slice and didn't crumble. My final verdict on the sugar cookies is that they are a definite keeper. I froze what I didn't eat so the grandchildren can enjoy them over the Holidays. For December 16, Heather from Randomosityandthegirl has chosen Buttery Jam Cookies on page 80 of Baking From My Home to Yours. For this recipe, head over to Ulrike's awesome blog.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Brioche

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"La Brioche" (Cake),1763 by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Musee du Lourve, Paris

This beautiful still life by Chardin was painted in the late seventeen hundreds, but brioche had it's beginnings in the 14th century, possibly in the Normandy region of France where butter was exceptional. Brioche,from the French word, "broyer" which means "to pound", is a yeast bread enriched with butter and eggs, a cross between bread and cake. The dough has a slow rise in the refrigerator and then shaped in the traditional brioche a tete, one piece of dough which fills the fluted pan and topped with smaller round piece of dough. Brioche can be sweet and served as a dessert or savory. Day old brioche can be toasted and served with butter and jam or slices can be dipped in beaten egg and fried in a pan for a delicious French toast.

Just recently, I bought Alice Medrich's book "Pure Dessert", a great book with a wide variety of desserts. I plan to work my way through the book making all of her luscious delights, but I couldn't decide which one to start with. I would just let the book fall open and whatever came up, I would make. Lucky for me, the book fell open to "Desire's Brioche". A trip to the grocery store was not necessary as I had all the ingredients on hand.

When making brioche, all of the ingredients should be very cold and the dough must rest overnight in the refrigerator. If you don't have the individual brioche pans, you can use standard muffin tins, but the effect won't be the same. Achieving the traditional top knot may take a little practice, but don't despair, the brioches are tasty no matter what their shape.


Desire's Brioche

Ingredients

3 cups (15 ounces) bread flour
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115° F.)
5 large cold eggs
1 tablespoon sour cream or yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water for wash

10 4-inch individual brioche pans

Place the flour in a shallow pan, cover and freeze for 30 minutes. Put the cold butter in the mixer bowl and use the paddle attachment to beat it only until it is creamy and smooth; there should be no small hard lumps when you pinch it between your fingers. Scrape the butter into a mound on a piece of wax paper and refrigerate. You must proceed with the recipe right away as a long delay will reharden the butter.

In a clean mixer bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in the warm water just until dissolved. Attach the dough hook. Add the remaining 1/3 sugar, the eggs, sour cream or yogurt, salt and flour and mix on low speed until the ingredients are blended, scraping the bowl as necessary. Knead the dough on medium speed for 5 minutes. At the end of the kneading period, the dough will be very soft, moist and sticky, and very elastic; it will be wrapped around the dough hook.

Add the cold creamed butter in several pieces, pushing it into the dough and beating thoroughly until it is incorporated. This will require stopping several times to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and off the hook. Scrape the dough into a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight, or for as long as 24 hours.

Generously butter the brioche pans.Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and deflate it with your hands. Divide into 10 equal pieces.

To form the traditional brioches with the topknot, first round each piece as follows: Place a piece of dough cut side down on a lightly floured counter. Flour hands, then cup hand over dough in a loose cage over the dough. Press the dough down gently as you rotate your hand counterclockwise in a small circle. Your hand should stay dry while the counter becomes slightly tacky from contact with the cut side of the dough. A tight ball should be forming. This takes practice. Set each ball of dough aside seam side down as you repeat the process on each piece of dough.

Form each round into a fat snowman shape: Cup you hands around the top third of a dough
ball and squeeze gently with the sides of your hands while you shimmy the back and forth to form a narrow neck with a little head on top. Place the snowman in a buttered brioche pan. Grasp the head from the top with your fingertips at the neck, and simultaneously pinch and twist the neck, then jam it deep into the dough in the pan. To secure the topknot and prevent it from from popping out during the proofing and baking, flour your index finger and poke your floured finger two or three more times around the seam of the topknot to secure it. Repeat until all of the brioches are formed.

Place the pans on a baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until almost double, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Thoroughly whisk the egg with 1 teaspoon water and strain it to remove any large bits of white. Brush the egg wash gently over the surface of each brioche, taking care not to get it on the pans, Bake until the tops are deeply browned and the bottom of the pans sound hollow when tapped, or an instant read thermometer registers 200°F when inserted in the center of the bread, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on rack.
Serve warm, or at room temperature.


More on brioche.

PeteBakes

EatingClubVancouver
The Repressed Pastry Chef
La Tartine Gourmande

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

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Our Daring Baker challenge for November is a recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting from Shuna Fish Lydon, an exceptional chef who is oh so lucky to be in London, my favorite city. Samuel Johnson said, "when one is tired of London, one is tired of life". A quite easily applied to this luxurious caramel cake slathered with a buttery caramel frosting, perfect for any occasion and never a tiring dessert. You can find Shuna's recipe, originally by Flo Braker here and a tutorial here.

Delores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity along with co-hosts, Alex from Blondie and Brownie and Jenny over at Foray into Food chose a great cake to serve for the Holidays and one that can be easily made ahead and assembled the day you will serve the cake. For those who bake gluten-free, Natalie of Gluten-a Go-Go was consulted for alternative ingredients.

To get that mellow caramel flavor.. a syrup made from sugar and water was cooked in a pan until a lovely brown color was attained. After the caramel syrup cooled, it was added to the cake ingredients. The cake came together easily as did the frosting. The frosting also contained the caramel syrup which further enhanced the caramel flavor. Instead of making the optional vanilla bean caramels, I decorated the cake with candied pecans. A definite keeper, I will make this cake again and again.


CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Happy Baking to everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Homemade Maple Nut Granola

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Our Thanksgiving dinner is the most looked forward to Holiday meal of the year, a repast where food abounds and we're together as a family, but so much time is spent in the kitchen preparing food for the big event that breakfast Thanksgiving morning is usually up for grabs. For the first time in years, I won't have the Thanksgiving dinner at my house so I have had time to think about what would be quick, easy and healthy breakfast, but transportable, too.

While perusing the November-Decembert issue of Eating Well magazine, I found a delicious maple nut granola which not only had the requisite oatmeal, dried fruit and various nuts and seeds, but pure maple syrup and pepitas, green hulled pumpkin seeds. Most commercial brands granola have artificial flavorings, plus loads of ingredients that you may not want in your granola. Pepitas are widely used in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. Those two ingredients made my decision along with the fact that the granola will keep well and can be made ahead. A perfectly transportable breakfast dish. Served with good Greek yogurt and some fresh fruit, our breakfast will be complete.

The recipe came together quickly and the heavenly smells wafting from my oven as the granola baked reminded me of Fall and of Thanksgiving. I have made homemade granola many times, but this one is my all time favorite and will become a staple in my kitchen. When making the granola, feel free to experiment with other dried fruits and nuts to come up with your own personal recipe. Original recipe here.


Maple Nut Granola

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (Bob's Red Mill is a good brand)
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 unsalted hulled pumpkin seeds(pepitas)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 275°F.

Combine oats, coconut chips, almonds, pecans, brown sugar, sunflower seeds, and pumpkins seeds in large bowl. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, water and canola oil. Pour over oat mixture, stir to combine well. Place in a 12x15 inch roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Stir, continue baking until granola turns golden brown and begins to crisp about 45 minutes more. Remove from oven and stir in dried cranberries. Cool until room temperature before storing. Makes about 10 cups. Keeps in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Note-you don't have to worry about it keeping for two weeks-the granola will be gone in days. It's that good.


More granola recipes on the Web.

From the foodlibrarian, a lovely mix of homemade granola, yogurt and fresh fruit.

A lovely homemade granola served with mango yogurt and soy milk over at buttersugarflour.

A fruity version from cafefernando.

Cookbookcatchall's granola made with honey.

One year ago on photo blog -Three Apples

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vanilla Arborio Rice Pudding with Raspberry Whipped Cream-Tuesdays with Dorie

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"I know how much you like rice pudding, so you'll be happy with what I'm making for the Tuesday with Dorie group", I said to my husband last week. "Well", he said, "I do like the pudding if it is made properly-it has to be thick and custardy." Whoops!! I thought I was defeated from the beginning, especially after reading the comments and realizing that this rice pudding will be nowhere near being "thick and custardy". Nevertheless, he loved it! The pudding was a bit runny even after cooking over an hour, but thickened up some in it's 5 hour stint in the refrigerator. The Arborio rice, typically used for risotto, was firm and creamy after simmering in the milk. I'm more fond of vanilla flavoring than chocolate and somehow, a chocolate rice pudding didn't thrill me, so I added a tablespoon of Trader Joe's Vanilla Bean Paste to my rice pudding. However, I don't think it is available there now. See the Food Librarian's post on where to buy vanilla bean paste. Dried raspberries steeped in Framboise completed the flavorings in the pudding itself while I topped the finished product with a fresh raspberry whipped cream.

Raspberry Whipped Cream

2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup raspberries
1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream

Combine sugar and raspberries. Crush slightly with a fork. Let stand 20 minutes. In an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip cream until stiff peaks form; lightly fold in crushed raspberries until a swirl pattern is achieved. Refrigerate until ready to top rice puddings. Makes about 2 cups. Original recipe here.

Dessert shots are quite the rage now and I thought that was a good way to contain my puddings. This was all last minute thinking and the sun was sinking fast, so fired off a few shots quickly. Actually, I think the rice pudding shots are a good way to serve the puddings, especially after a rich meal when just a "petite bouchée" satisfies. Thanks to Isabelle from lesgourmandisesdias for her comfort food pick of the quintessential rice pudding. Next week is the Thanksgiving Twofer pie, two favorite holiday pies, pumpkin and pecan, rolled into one with Vibi of lacasserolecarree as host. Also, don't miss seeing all the lovely variations on the Arborio rice pudding on the Tuesdays with Dorie website. Until next time, "Cheers"!


One year ago- Red Onion Slice Still Life from photo-per-diem.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grilled Chicken and Sausage Kebabs with Hot Red and Green Cabbage Slaw

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Update:
Please note that the kielbasa or smoked sausage is fully cooked-if using a fresh sausage, place links in a foil-lined pan, add two tablespoons water, loosely wrap and cook for 15-20 minutes to precook the sausage, cool and slice into 1" pieces. Proceed as below

I had a few days to myself not long ago, but didn't want to resort to eating fast food or a fried egg sandwich which is usually what I end up dining on when I have no one to cook for. In my freezer, I found a small boneless chicken breast that I had frozen a few weeks ago and in the refrigerator, I had half a package of kielbasa from a recent low country boil, some red and green cabbage, some maple-cured bacon and a couple of bottles of lager, a light beer . Surely, I could find something delicious and unique to cook from these few ingredients. Grilling outside is my favorite way of cooking in any sort of weather, so I decided the chicken and kielbasa would become kebabs with a beer marinade. A German influenced meal was developing, it seemed. The two cabbages would become a slaw with a warm bacon vinaigrette. Now to get cooking!

Lime juice, olive oil and the beer are the main components for the marinade. Garlic and honey add another dimension as well as a torn fresh bay leaf. Because I was short of time, I only marinated the kebabs for a few hours. The shredded red and green cabbage along with some sliced leeks and carrots were set aside in separate bowls until the warm vinaigrette was made, then combined. The smoky flavor of the maple-cured bacon, plus some maple syrup adds a distinct, but not too sweet flavor to the vinaigrette. The grilled kebabs sit atop this lovely warm slaw. Beer is the beverage of choice, but a light red wine, such as a pinot noir would be nice, too.

Grilled Chicken and Sausage Kebabs

Ingredients

Juice of 1 lime
1 cup beer, lager or any light colored beer
1 teaspoon honey
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf, torn
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bonesless chicken breast, about 1 pound, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 link kielbasa, or smoked sausage of choice, about 3/4 pound, cut into 1 inch slices

If using bamboo skewers, soak in cold water for about an hour. Combine ingredients for marinade. Add chicken and sausage, marinate at least one hour. While chicken and sausage is marinating, prepare cole slaw. When chicken and sausage has marinated, alternately, skewer chicken and sausage on bamboo skewers. Prepare charcoal or gas grill according to manufacturers instructions for a moderately hot fire. Grill kebabs 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked throughly, but still moist. Serves 2-4

Hot Cabbage Slaw

4 slices (4 ounces) bacon, cut in half
1/2 cup apple-cider vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup (grade B, if available)
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup (2 stalks) sliced leeks
3 cups shredded green cabbage
1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup (2 medium) grated carrots

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp.
Transfer to paper towels and discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from skillet.
Add vinegar, maple syrup, celery seed, and black pepper. Bring to a boil
and cook 1 minute. Pour all but 1 tablespoon warm dressing into a small
bowl.

2. Adjust heat to medium low and add leeks to skillet. Cook until
slightly softened — about 2 minutes. Add green and red cabbage and carrots.
Stir in reserved dressing and cook just until vegetables soften — 3 to
4 minutes. Transfer to serving platter, top with bacon, and serve
immediately.
Hot Cabbage Slaw recipe here.

To serve: Place kebabs atop hot slaw or serve separately.

One year ago- Chicken Coconut Curry with Scallions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kugelhopf-Tuesdays with Dorie

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A fancy name for a cross between a yeast cake and a yeast bread, but the Kugelhopf is a lovely textured, slightly sweet bread soaked in butter while warm, much like a Savarin or a Baba au Rhum is soaked with a flavored syrup. Whoever first baked this bread must have thought that it wouldn't impress anyone, so had a fancy mold made for it. The mold is a fluted mold shaped like a turban and makes a beautiful bread. I'm disappointed I couldn't find the Kugelhopf pan anywhere short of having to order it online and time was not on my side. I had to rush off to Palm Springs on Sunday, so did everything on Saturday, therefore, my photos were rushed.

Thanks to Yolanda for choosing Kugelhopf for this Tuesdays with Dorie edition. You can find the recipe on her blog, but also check out other posts on the TWD site.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Espresso Caramels

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There was little doubt in my mind that when presented with the choice of coffee or tea with which to prepare a dish to submit to this edition of Meeta's Monthly Mingle, coffee would win hands down. The smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the house in the early morning hours is my alarm clock. It's deep, rich aroma is unique among hot beverages. Coffee conjures up hearty, rich flavors whereas tea seems suited for more delicate flavors.

Coffee beans are of two basic types, arabica and robusta. Arabica is the more superior of the two and is grown by more coffee growers than the robusta. We prize the arabica bean and depending upon what region of the world it is grown, the beans flavor varies widely. How the bean is roasted also affects the depth of flavor. From lightly roasted for a mild flavor to heavily roasted for espresso and other very strong coffees. For the espresso caramels, I used Ferrara instant espresso, a very hearty coffee that dissolves easily in a liquid. To further enhance the coffee flavor of the caramels, a tablespoon of Sabrosa, a Mexican liqueur was added to the final mixture.

Espresso caramels are not difficult to make, but a candy thermometer is crucial in order to attain the proper temperature (240°-242°F). A candy making chart is helpful for making many different cooked confections. The mixture gets very hot, so take care in removing the pan from the heat. When the caramels have set up and are cut into squares or strips, wrap them in the proper size parchment papers immediately as the candy will begin to spread out if not wrapped. The caramels will keep for about 2 weeks in an airtight container which makes them an easy make ahead confection for the upcoming holidays.


Espresso Caramels
Adapted from "Coffee, Scrumptious Drinks and Treats", by Betty Rosbottom with lovely photographs by Lara Hata

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing foil-lined pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur, omit if you like
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
pinch salt

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides of about 2 inches. Generously butter the bottoms and sides of the foil. Set pan aside.You can use a smaller square pan if you want thicker caramels. In the 8-inch pan, they will be about 1/4 inch thick.

Melt butter with vanilla in a small saucepan. When butter has melted, add the instant espresso and stir to combine thoroughly. Remove from heat. Add coffee liqueur, if desired.

Combine heavy cream, brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup and pinch of salt in a heavy, deep saucepan. Set saucepan over medium-low heat and stir constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon until sugars have dissolved and the mixture begins to boil, about 4-5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and place a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Continue to stir until mixture reaches 240°-242°F, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in reserved butter, espresso, vanilla and liqueur mixture. Stir until well-combined. Pour mixture in prepared pan . Cool completely, about 2 hours. The caramel can stand overnight covered.

Lift caramel out by the foil overhang and invert on a lightly oiled surface. Peel foil off the back. Oil the blade of a large, sharp knife and cut the caramel into strips about 1/2 to 1-inch wide, depending upon how big you want your caramel pieces to be. Re-oil knife and cut each strip into 1/2-1-inch wide pieces. Wrap caramels individually in parchment papers. 4x4-inch parchment squares work well with this size caramel. Adjust size of paper accordingly. Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 64 caramels

A little extra-for a caramel maple syrup for pancakes, melt some of the caramels in a double boiler. Add enough pure maple syrup to make a pancake type syrup mixture. Serve with blueberry pancakes for a real treat. Also, the prepared caramel syrup can be used to make the caramel whipped cream in the Pumpkin Pots de Creme recipe here.



Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie-Rugelach

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I have seen Rugelach in some upscale bakeries, but I never knew what the mysterious little cookies contained until I read the recipe that Piggy from Piggy's Cooking Journal chose for this Tuesdays with Dorie edition. What a luscious combination of jam, cinnamon sugar, nuts, currants, and chppped chocolate. I knew I would like it especially since the dough contained cream cheese and butter which would surely make a tender cookie.

Just like the "little black dress", Rugelach will always be in style, as a fancy cookie for an elegant party or for a casual afternoon tea. Mine weren't as pretty as the photo in Dorie's book. I think I should have spread a thinner layer of jam as it oozed out of the cookie while baking. But this is the first time I have made this cookie, so I will be more careful in the future. A great cookie, though! Check out all the posts from the TWD blog roll on this wonderful little tea or coffee time treat. Grace from Piggy's Cooking Journal has the recipe.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pumpkin Pots de Creme Topped with Caramel Whipped Cream

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I adore pumpkin pie and love making a homemade crust, but this year I have decided that my pumpkin dessert will be this Pumpkin Pot de Creme spiced with some of the usual pumpkin pie spices, but I have added just a hint of ground chipotle chili pepper to the mix. Chipotles are smoked jalapeno chile peppers which are used extensively in Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. A pureed sweet potato dish that I make quite often has chipotles en adobo which are chipotles in a spicy, vinegary tomato sauce. So why not add it to pumpkin, a kindred vegetable in color and used in some of the same ways. I grew up having sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving because my father thought he didn't like pumpkin. Once my sister made a pumpkin pie, but didn't tell him until the pie was devoured by everyone, including him. From then on, he was a fan of pumpkin pies.

The pumpkin is still the star in this dessert and has all the ingredients of the pumpkin pie, minus the crust which sometimes can end up soggy and disappointing. The pumpkin filling is poured into ramekins and baked in a hot water bath so you get a velvety consistency. A lovely topping of caramel whipped cream makes this dessert a very special treat for any winter holiday meal.




Pumpkin Pots de Creme

Ingredients

1 (15oz) can unsweetened pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling mix
3 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half cream

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring water to boil in kettle for hot water bath.

Whisk together pumpkin puree and eggs. Mix in the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, chipotle chile pepper and salt. Stir in half and half and mix until smooth.

Divide mixture evenly among 8 (1/2 cup capacity) ramekins. Place ramekins in a deep baking pan, place in middle rack of oven. Pour hot water in the pan to about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about an hour. A thin knife inserted in the pots de creme should come out almost clean.

Let cool slightly, serve warm or chilled with the Caramel Whipped Cream.

Caramel Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons prepared caramel sauce ( I used espresso caramels that I melted and added maple syrup) The espresso caramels will be in a post later this week, but you can also use prepared caramel sauce. Espresso Caramels recipe here.

Combine ingredients, chill for an hour. Whip with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Spicy Southwestern Braid

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This rustic cornmeal and cilantro flecked braid, redolent of the flavors of the Southwest and Mexico, is a hearty bread which can be served alone as a sandwich or with a simple soup or pasta dish. The braid is filled with layers of black or pinto beans, corn, green chiles, black olives, salsa and Pepper Jack cheese for a slightly spicy flavor. The dough is easily prepared in a bread machine on the dough cycle and can be made a few hours ahead of filling the braid, just refrigerate the dough a few hours or overnight until ready to assemble. With the exception of the cilantro, most of these ingredients can be found in your pantry.

I find the bread machine a great tool in making some breads, but mostly use the dough cycle as I like to shape my own dough for a more natural looking bread. My bread machine of old finally froze up on me after many years of bread-making, so I bought a new Cuisinart convection bread machine which has 16 pre-set menu options, but the Artisan dough cycle, in addition to the normal dough cycle was what really sold me on the machine. Artisan dough requires a long, cool rise, perfect for French bread or focaccia. Of course, you don't have to use a bread machine to make this dough, it can also be made by hand or with a heavy duty electric mixer.


Spicy Southwestern Braid
Adapted from Pizza, Focaccia, Flat and Filled Breads-From Your Bread Machine by Lora Brody

Cornmeal Cilantro Dough

2 teaspoons active dry or bread machine yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarse ground yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup,plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup lightly packed whole cilantro leaves, if using by hand or mixer method, chop cilantro leaves

With a Bread Machine:
Place all ingredients except the cilantro in bread machine container. Process on the dough cycle according to the manufacturer's instructions for your machine.If you machine has a mix in setting, when the beeper goes off, add in the cilantro. Otherwise, about two minutes before the end of the machine's second kneading cycle , add in the cilantro. Check the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle; the dough should be a smooth ball. Adjust flour and water, if necessary. While dough is rising in the machine, prepare the filling. After cycle has completed, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface.

By Hand or Electric Mixer
In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, flour, cornmeal and salt. Make a well in the middle and add water and oil mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer until ingredients are incorporated. If dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until a soft dough is formed. Mix in chopped cilantro. If kneading by hand, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 5 minutes. If kneading with an electric mixer, change to a kneading attachment and knead for about 5 minutes on medium speed.Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to oiled side, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour. While dough is rising, prepare filling.

Filling

1 can (16 oz.) black beans or pinto beans
1 small can (3/4 cup) sliced black olives, drained
3/4 cup frozen (defrosted) or fresh corn kernels
1 small can (4 1/2 oz) chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup salsa, spicy or mild
2 cups (8oz) shredded Pepper Jack , cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Assembly

Divide dough into two equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a 15x10-inch rectangle. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Visually divide rectangle into thirds, each 10x5 inches. On the middle third of the dough, leaving 1-inch of space at each end, layer on half the beans, half the black olives, half the corn corn, half the green chiles,half the salsa and sprinkle on half the shredded cheese.

Using a sharp knife or scissors, on the unfilled sides of each section of dough, make 6 evenly spaced 5 inch long cuts in the dough, cutting from one edge of one of the unfilled sides just to where the filling starts. Fold the small section of dough at then end of the filling over the filling. Alternating sides, cross the strips of dough over the filling tucking them underneath the dough on the opposite side, making a braid-like appearance. Repeat process with other rectangle of dough. Tent each braid with a tent of lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until puffy-about 1 hour.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and filling has begun to bubble. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 2 braids. To freeze cooked braid, let cool completely, transfer to a plastic freezer bag. Defrost while still wrapped so moisture will collect on the outside of the braid, not on the braid. Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap loosely in foil or place directly on rack, reheat for ten to 15 minutes.

Spicy Southwestern Braid

See Spicy Southwestern Braid on Key Ingredient.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Southwestern Pizza-Daring Bakers

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Pizza is great choice for October, my year anniversary with the Daring Bakers'. Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums, host for this month's baking event, remarked that no Daring Baker challenge to date has focused on how to make real pizza with an added challenge of tossing the dough like the pros. But the even bigger challenge was not just tossing the pizza dough, but photographing the event! Well, I tried talking myself out of even taking part in the challenge. I couldn't imagine how I would shoot the photo. My remote cord is not long enough and to set the scene up using the 12 second timer on my camera would require my running back and forth with the dough in my hand. Which is exactly what I did. What the heck! My tossing pizza properly has a long way to go before it's perfect, but I did it.


Southwestern food is my absolute favorite cuisine and I have used this sauce and topping many times when I have made homemade pizza for the family. It's easy and very inexpensive to make.

~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 4 pizza crusts

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
1 tablespoon sugar
Semolina or cornmeal for dusting

To Sauce

1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chunky salsa, mild, medium or spicy
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cups chopped red onion
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pizzas.

To Finish

2 ripe avocados, pitted and cut into thin slices
1 cup sour cream, (reduced fat works good)
1/2 pound grated Pepper Jack cheese, or Monterey Jack cheese
Fresh or bottled jalapeno peppers, sliced for garnish, (optional)


Day One
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well to form a sticky ball of dough, either with a wooden spoon, or with the paddle attachment of your mixer, on low speed. On a clean, lightly floured surface, knead 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If too dry, add a small amount of water; if too wet, add a little more flour. To knead with an electric mixer, switch to dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes on medium speed. When finished kneading by either method, the dough should be springy, elastic and a little sticky.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and with a dough scraper, cut into 4 equal pieces, 6 pieces, for smaller pizzas. Sprinkle a little flour over the dough. With floured hands, round each piece of dough into a ball. Place on a parchment lined jelly roll pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight or up to three days. If desired, you can freeze the dough balls in a oil filmed plastic bag for up to 3 months. The day before you plan to make the pizza, transfer desired dough balls to refrigerator.

Day Two

Two hours before you plan to eat the pizza, remove desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Place the dough balls on a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and lightly press the dough into disks, about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for two hours.

At least 45 minutes before baking the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven at highest temperature. Sprinkle a baker's peel or the back of a jelly roll pan with cornmeal or semolina. Press the dough into any shape you want, letting rest for a few minutes between pressing. If you desire to toss the dough, read this tip.

When the dough is the shape you want, transfer carefully to the peel or jelly roll pan, making sure there is enough semolina/cornmeal on it to allow dough to slide into the oven once it is topped.

To Assemble the Pizzas

Divide the salsa among the four pizzas, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Lay on the avocado slices, then spoon on sour cream. Sprinkle pizzas with the grated cheese and top with the optional jalapeno slices. Slide pizzas onto baking stone in oven. Bake for about 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and topping is bubbly. My highest oven temperature is 500°, if your oven has a higher or lower temperature, adjust baking times.

Southwestern Pizza

See Southwestern Pizza on Key Ingredient.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes-Tuesdays with Dorie

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Halloween has sneaked up on me this year, so after this post, I'm going to run out and buy a ton of treats because I get a ton of kids, all ages who trick or treat in my neighborhood. I love the little ones the most. The girls are so cute in their angel or princess costumes and the boys in their favorite football player, cowboy or ghoul costume. The Chocolate-Chocolate cupcakes are my only stab, no pun intended, at preparing for Halloween. Also, I am a little late posting today as my Internet was down so I've already seen the very expertly decorated cupcakes that Clara from iheartfood4thought chose for her pick this TWD edition.

I made six large cupcakes instead of the 12 standard size. The larger ones seem to photograph better than the smaller ones. The recipe made a scant 6, however, so a couple of mine were a bit on the small side. Dorie suggested filling them with marshmallow fluff which I did, but tinted the fluff orange. However, when I broke into the cupcake, the fluff seemed to have melded in with the cupcake. The lemon meringue cupcakes I made in a previous post had lemon curd piped in the center and I expected the marshmallow fluff to look the same. Maybe there's a "trick" for my "treat" there that I haven't figured out.

Clara has the recipe on her blog if you don't have the book "Baking From My Home to Yours", but also go over to the TWD site to see how everyone else decorated their Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes. See you for the next TWD edition when the group bakes Rugelach, chosen by Piggy from Piggy's Cooking Journal.


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