Thursday, December 10, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Croissant Bread Pudding

This post almost didn't happen. I am sure it is a busy time of year for everyone and it almost was too busy for me to make this one. I did really want to make this recipe though so I managed to make it at the last possible time I could. I have always loved eating bread pudding but I have not made it since I baked in a restaurant 25 years ago - and that bread pudding served 100+. This bread pudding recipe is not much like that one I made 25 years ago.

With all the eating and desserts this time of year I decided it would be best to cut this recipe down to 1/4 of the recipe. I needed to get a croissant so I decided I would just stop with my son and eat at Panera for lunch and get some croissants there. Well turns out the croissants at Panera are huge. I decided just to get one and assume that would be at least the same as 1 1/2 normal croissants. The single croissant fit pretty much perfect in a 6x6 baking dish so I decided to use that. The recipe is a little hard to make 1/4 with the eggs. I ended up using just one jumbo egg and one yolk.

I haven't really had a bread pudding I haven't liked and I am not going to start now. This is not really like any bread pudding I have had before. It is much lighter and more delicate. I don't think you can really compare it to another bread pudding since it is so different. I did enjoy it though and would definitely make it again sometime.

Thanks to Peggy at the Pantry Revisited for this recipe pick. She made a few modifications to this recipe so check out her blog on that.

Croissant Bread Pudding
Serves 8-10

  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 8 extra-large egg yolks
  • 5 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 croissants, preferably stale, sliced horizontally
  • 1 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up), being sure the raisins are between the layers of croissants or they will burn while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.
  3. Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Company Pot Roast

I knew I shouldn't have procrastinated on this post. Here I am the night before Thanksgiving and I still didn't have my post that is due on Thanksgiving done. The apple pie is in the oven now so I have a little break to get this done. To everyone else in the US (or even if your not) - Happy Thanksgiving - enjoy the meal.

This post isn't about Thanksgiving dinner though - it is about this weeks Barefoot Blogger recipe - Company Pot Roast. The name of this recipe kind of got me into trouble - my wife decided that it must mean we have to have company over to eat it. That is OK though - gives me a chance to try out a few recipes. I served the pot roast over Ina's rosemary polenta recipe and served a Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert.

So how was the pot roast? I would have to say it was very good. It is not really what I am used to since there are not really any identifiable vegetables in it when you serve it. I think that would take a little getting used to for me. That being said - blending all the vegetables into the sauce makes a very tasty gravy - and probably a lot healthier than your standard gravy too. The only question I had on the recipe is - who uses a Prime cut of meat for pot roast? I thought the whole point of pot roast is that is used a little bit of a cheaper cut of meat.

Thanks to Lisa at Lime in the Coconut for this recipe. I haven't had much time to check out her blog yet but it looks like she has some nice photos of her recipes.

Company Pot Roast
Serves 8

  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.
  4. Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stove top over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cheesecake

I love cheesecake - I think most people do. I have a terrific recipe for pumpkin cheesecake and I rarely get the option to make it. I could probably make it on Thanksgiving but I have a hard time making things that are not the traditional recipes on that occasion. We had company over last Friday so I decided to take the opportunity to make the pumpkin cheesecake.
I don't watch movies more than once, I don't travel to the same location twice, and I don't make the same recipe twice. I have made this recipe in the past and I am making it again so you know I think it is good. if I make a recipe more than once you know it is good. This cheesecake is creamy and rich and has just the right spices. Even the graham cracker crust is spiced. The topping is probably unnecessary but it is very nice. I made it without the bourbon this time and it is still very good without the alcohol.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
Serves 12 to 16


  • 9 whole graham crackers, (5 ounces), broken into large pieces
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-1/3 cups (10-1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place the crackers, sugar, and spices in a food processor and process until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, drizzle the melted butter over, and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.
  3. Turn crumbs into prepared spring-form pan and spread the crumbs into an even layer. Using the bottom of a ramekin, 1 cup measuring cup, or drinking glass, press the crumbs into the bottom of the spring-form pan. Press the crumbs as far as possible into the edges of the pan. Using a teaspoon, neatly press the crumbs into the corners of the pan to create a clean edge.
  4. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes. When cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18-inch-square pieces of heavy-duty foil, set the spring-form pan in a roasting pan.
  1. Bring about 4 quarts water to a simmer in stockpot. While the crust is cooking, whisk the sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin on the towels and cover with a second triple layer of towels. Press firmly until the towels are saturated. Peel back the top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold the pumpkin in half; peel back the towels. Repeat and flip the pumpkin onto the baking sheet; discard the towels.
  3. Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer set at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula. Add about a third of the sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl and add the remaining sugar in two additions, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add the remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give a final stir by hand.
  4. Pour the filling into a spring-form pan and smooth the surface; set the roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of spring-form pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken, and the center of the cake reads 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Set the roasting pan on a wire rack and cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the spring-form pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and set on a wire rack; run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake and cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
  5. To serve, remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the pan bottom to loosen, then slide the cake onto serving platter. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Editors' notes: Depending on the oven and the temperature of the ingredients, the cheesecake may bake about 15 minutes faster or slower than the instructions indicate; it is therefore best to check the cake 1 1/4 hours into baking. Although the cheesecake can be made up to three days in advance, the crust will begin to lose its crispness after only one day. To make slicing the cheesecake easy and neat, use a knife with a narrow blade, such as a carving knife; between cuts, dip the blade into a pitcher of hot water and wipe it clean with paper towels.

Brown Sugar and Bourbon Cream
Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon
  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, brown sugar, and salt until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve the cheesecake, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours, stirring once or twice during chilling to ensure that the sugar dissolves.
  2. When ready to serve the cheesecake, add the bourbon and beat the mixture until small bubbles form around the edge, about 40 seconds; increase speed to high and continue to beat until fluffy and doubled in volume, about 1 minute longer. Spoon the cream onto individual slices of cheesecake.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Crème Brulee

The first Barefoot Blogger recipe for November is a fun one - Crème Brulee. I think Crème Brulee was probably the first real fancy dessert that we had after we were married. We liked it enough that my wife and I went to a community education class that taught how to make a dinner that had Crème Brulee as the dessert. We have tried to make it a few times with varying levels of success so I was excited to get the chance to try it out again.
This recipe was easier than the recipe I have done before. There is really no cooking on the stove other than scalding the milk (and you can do that in the microwave if you want to cheat.). This recipe uses a little liqueur so I will now be a little closer to making that Grand Marnier purchase worth it - it is expensive but it can be used in a lot of recipes. The recipe says to use a cooking torch but don't go purchase one just for this if you have one in the workshop - a normal propane torch works great.
The recipe was easier but I think it was just as good. I do think I like a little more vanilla flavor so I might use a vanilla bean like my other recipe next time - just cook the vanilla bean with the milk and scrape the insides into the milk when done. The liqueur taste was very mild and I only noticed it on the first bite or two. The only other change I might make to the recipe is to strain the custard before you put it into the ramekins. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are when you pour the milk into the egg, the egg will cook a little. I only noticed this in the last dish I poured that there was a little cooked egg to mess up the smooth texture a little and straining would have prevented. I made the full recipe since I like this so much. It does keep pretty well and they are just as good a few days later.
Thanks to Suzie at Munch and Nibble for this months recipe. Go to her blog and check out her very cool Halloween cake.

Crème Brulee
Makes 5-6 servings

  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.
  3. Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.
  4. To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Chicken Chili

Here is another good fall/winter recipe to wrap up the Barefoot Bloggers "Week with the Barefoot Contessa". I was originally going to make the Roasted Potato Leek soup but it had a few hard to get ingredients that I knew I would not be able to get at my normal grocery store so I went with the Chicken Chili.
The recipe was easy to put together. Once you get the main part of the chili cooking you roast the chicken in the oven. This gives it a lot better flavor than just cooking it in the pot with the Chili. I probably didn't wait long enough for the chicken to cool off to break it up for the chili. It reminded me of one of my first jobs at the Big Boy where I had to pull all the leftover chicken off the bone for soups and salads. I never wanted to wait until the chicken was cool enough then either.
I made the chili without the peppers since Lara won't eat peppers at all. I think it would have been a little better with the peppers but the chili was still very good and flavorful. When I normally make a chili I go for more complicated recipes where I have to roast peppers and they take a lot longer to make. I don't think this measures up to a recipe like that but I think it was very good for a chili you can make in two hours - definitely better than most restaurant chilies if you ask me.
Make sure to check out the Barefoot Bloggers website in the next week or so. She is going to create a round-up post showing what everyone made for this challenge.

Chicken Chili
Serves 6

  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
  • 1/8 cup minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 4 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For serving:
  • Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream
  1. Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Caramelized Butternut Squash

I guess I lied on Monday when I told you to check back on Tuesday. I decided I would only be able to do three of the five recipes so I will be posting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So for my second recipe I chose the Caramelized Butternut Squash. It is definitely that time of year in Minnesota - it has been very cold, even for MN. This recipe is for Butternut Squash but I picked up a Buttercup squash instead. You can pretty much use any of the winter squashes interchangeably.
The recipe is very easy to put together. I cut the recipe in half and used only one squash. The only tricky part was peeling the squash - This is probably a good reason to choose Butternut - I think the smooth squash would have been a lot easier to peel. Once I got past that the rest was a snap.
The squash tasted very good. It was a hit for the entire family, including Victor. The brown sugar just adds a little sweetness - not too much at all in my opinion. It is a little more effort than the way I normally roast squash just cut in half but this recipe will be a nice way to mix things up on occasion.

Caramelized Butternut Squash
Serves 6-8

  • 2 medium butternut squash (4 to 5 pounds total)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut off and discard the ends of each butternut squash. Peel the squash, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize. While roasting, turn the squash a few times with a spatula, to be sure it browns evenly. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Barefoot Bloggers is doing something a little different this month. For the week of Nov 2-6 they are having a "Week with Barefoot Contessa". The idea is that we make a new recipe for every day of the week and blog about it. I think it sounds like a great idea. The selected recipes all sound good to me and I am going to try to make at least three or four of them this week. I better get to it since it looks like I am going to be busy.

The first post was for a dessert - Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars. I love making desserts but I am not really a bar person so this will be something different for me. The bars were easy to put together. The only problem I had was getting them out of the pan. Around the edges they really stuck to the pan. Once I managed to chisel the edges out the rest came out easily.

I am very glad I tried this recipe. They bars were excellent. To me these were like a good peanut butter cookie and the jam just added a little something extra. I would for sure make these again for a church potluck or something. Make sure to check out the blog tomorrow - there should be more.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Makes 24 Bars

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
  • 2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
  5. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Blue Cheese Soufflé

I was kind of surprised when my wife said she would be willing to try this one without modification. I thought the Blue Cheese would turn her off of it right away. I, on the other hand, love Blue Cheese. I knew a lot of the bloggers were planning on using different cheese but I decided if my wife was up for it I would go for it - although I was fully expecting her not to eat it.

I have made soufflés in the past and am not too scared of them anymore. The biggest trick is just mixing the egg whites in enough so that they are actually mixed in and you don't have pockets of egg white when you are done - but not so much that they deflate. I was a little concerned that my two year old seemed to want to play exclusively in front of the oven and seemed to be jumping around more than normal just when I was cooking a delicate soufflé. Not to worry though - it all came out good.

I didn't hate it but I can't say I loved this recipe. My first bite I thought it was way too strong on the blue cheese. It did grow on me though and after a few bites I was enjoying it much more. Lara, my wife, seemed to like it as well and cleaned her plate - much more than I expected from her. So while I wouldn't say this was bad I don't think I would make it again. I'll stick with other kinds of cheese or maybe even better, chocolate.

Thanks to Summer at Sexy Apartment for this pick. She just got to meet Ina Garten at the NY Food and Wine Festival - sounds like a lot of fun.

Blue Cheese Soufflé
Serves 2-3

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup scalded milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces good Roquefort cheese, chopped
  • 5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Butter the inside of an 8-cup souffle dish (7 1/2 inches in diameter and 3 1/4 inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.
  4. Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Roquefort and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  5. Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.
  6. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the souffle rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don't peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Baked Apple Dumplings

I think it is about time I do a non Barefoot Blogger - non cake post. Not that there is anything wrong with those but I need to do a new recipe I actually pick myself every once in a while. Here in MN it seems like it is winter already. It was in the low 20s last week and we just got our first snow cover yesterday. Well - it is not winter yet and anything apples make me think of fall.

The recipe has a delicious cider sauce you can make ahead of time and is good over ice cream when the Apple Dumplings are done. I did have a little trouble with the dough. It called for buttermilk which I did not have (again) and I decided to use just milk. I couldn't really get it to mix with the dough - I ended up dumping a bunch of the milk off. I don't really think it would have been different with buttermilk but who knows. The dough turned out very soft and it was hard to form around the apples without falling apart - but I got it done and they seemed to turn out good.

I love pretty much any fruit dessert and these didn't let me down. The apples were good - not too soft and not too firm. The crust was very good despite my issues. The sauce, as I said earlier, was very good and a nice extra touch on the dumplings. You could do these without the sauce but I am not sure I would want to now that I have had it.

Baked Apple Dumplings
Source: Cook's Country Oct/Nov 2009, page 20
Serve 8


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
  • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk

Apple Dumplings
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins, chopped
  • 4 golden delicious apples
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

  1. Make Dough. Process flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor until combined. Scatter butter and shortening over flour and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to bowl. Stir in buttermilk until dough forms. Turn onto floured surface and knead briefly until dough is cohesive. Press dough into 8 by 4 inch rectangle. Cut in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Prep Apples. Adjust over rack to middle and heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. In second bowl combine butter, raisins, and 3 tablespoons cinnamon and sugar mixture. Peel apples and halve through equator. Remove core (being careful not to pierce bottom) and pack butter mixture into each half.
  3. Assemble Dumplings. On lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into a 12 inch square. Cut each square into four 6 inch squares. Working one at a time, lightly brush edges of dough square with egg whites and place apple, cut side up in center. Gather dough, one corner at a time on top of the apple, crimping edges to seal. Using paring knife, cut vent hole in top of each apple.
  4. Finish Apples. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange dumplings on prepared sheet, brush tops with egg white, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake until dough is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes. Serve with Cider Sauce.

Cider Sauce
Make about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  1. Bring cider, water, sugar, and cinnamon to simmer in saucepan and cook over medium high heat until thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and lemon juice. Drizzle over dumplings to serve.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Cheddar Corn Chowder

I don't make enough soups. I always enjoy soup when I make it and it makes a nice meal with just a sandwich or salad so I am not sure why I never think to make it. Saying that - it was nice to see this selection to kick off soup season. In Minnesota it has been very cold this past week - hit 29 F one night and has pretty much stayed rainy and under 50 for a week or more. This is definitely what I would call good soup weather.

I did cut the recipe in half since it looked like it made a lot of soup. I left the Olive Oil out since it seemed like it wasn't needed and it would take the calories down a little bit. The soup was pretty easy to make and only took about an hour to make. It did take a lot of chopping. If I was going to do a full batch I might break out the food processor to chop all the onions.

The chowder was excellent. It was very tasty and satisfying. I think the servings must be at least 12-16 oz since even cut in half it will probably be twelve servings for us. I have seen some comments on it being thin for a chowder but I think it depends on what you are used to since I liked the consistency. If you want it thicker use more flour or less liquid - or check out Debby's blog, A Feast for the Eyes, to see what her secret is.

Thanks to Jill at My Next Life for this selection. She has a great looking recipe for what she calls Stromboli/Calzone/Pizza thingy that looks like it would be great for a party.

Cheddar Corn Chowder
Makes 10-12 Servings

  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
  • 10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  1. In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  2. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

Are you guys sick of cake yet? I have liked making and tasting these cakes - it has been nice to be able to compare so many recipes so I will hopefully have one that I want to use when I really need a good cake. The last cake was a yellow cake - now onto a chocolate cake.

This recipe seemed very different to me. It is kind of surprising how different recipes can be and still make the same basic thing. The recipe uses a lot of liquid for the amount of solid ingredients and the batter is very runny. I re-read the recipe a few times to make sure I didn't screw up. It was the complete opposite of the last cake I made which had to be spread into the pans.

I had a few disasters while making this cake. My buttermilk was bad so I ended up using some of the dry buttermilk substitute I had. I was a little concerned about this - I don't like making a substitution like this on a cake. My second problem occurred ten minutes into baking. The cake started overflowing like crazy. This one could have been prevented if only I had read the recipe comments on food network. There were a lot of people that had this issue. Sounds like the way to fix this is to either use a 9 inch pan instead of the 8 inch pans or to use a deeper 8 inch pan. I slipped a pan in quick to catch the mess but not quick enough - I have a big mess to clean up now.

Despite the overflow the cake was fantastic. I had to trim the cake a little because of the overflow and it ended up being very crumby and hard to frost. The frosting recipe didn't make any extra so that didn't help either. You can see a few of the crumbs peeking through in my cake but it wasn't to bad. The cake was very moist and chocolaty. The coffee flavor didn't really come through in the cake but it did in the frosting. I am not a coffee drinker but I still liked it in this. My wife and at least one other person didn't like the frosting because of the coffee so keep this in mind if you are serving it to non-coffee drinkers. You could always reduce or eliminate the coffee in the frosting. The frosting had a very good texture and was not too sweet - it went very nicely with the cake. I will definitely use this recipe again.

Thanks to Mary at Passionate Perseverance for this recipe. Her blog is one of the first barefoot blogger blogs I have seen that is not predominantly a food blog. Looks like she has a lot of different topics she blogs on.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Serves 8

  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Directions (Chocolate Buttercream recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 8-inch (use deep 8 inch or 9 inch pans) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  3. Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  1. Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Birthday Sheet Cake

A little late on this on but better late than never. As I mentioned in my last post I actually had an event I could use a sheet cake at. The last cake I made I wanted to rent the pan since I figured I would probably never make a large cake like this again - imagine my surprise when I was making one just a month later.

The event was a Reunion picnic for the Rev-Elations chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association. It is the first time they tried this and I wanted to try to make it a little more special with the cake. The frosting job was a little difficult. As you can see a lot of writing in not a lot of space - I think my hand is still cramping up from doing the lettering. I think the frosting job came out pretty good though. The event was also a big success - lots of good food and good times with all the past and current members. If you want to know more about the Christian Motorcycle Association and what we do please check out this link.

Now on to the cake. I was a little worried after reading all the food network reviews. It has the lowest rating of he recipes that I have seen. People didn't like the lemon, the cake was dry, it overflowed... Well a lot of the problems seemed to be with people adjusting the cake for a different size pan - this can be difficult if you don't know what you are doing. I like citrus so I decided to leave that as well. I am not sure I have ever made a cake with sour cream or corn starch as ingredients. This would defintly be an experiment.

The cake was very good. It was very moist (dry usually means overcooked which doesn't take long with a cake) and it was a sweet cake. The citrus was noticeable but not overwhelming at all. The frosting was thin which made me a little nervous. The recipe wanted it frosted in the pan - informal like - which is not what I did. My cake was cold when I frosted it and the icing set right up when it hit the cold cake so it worked out well. The frosting was very chocolaty and not too sweet. I think this was a nice combo with the sweet cake. My wife liked the lemon too and even thought it might need more since it was hard to taste with the frosting. Overall I really enjoyed it and it is a recipe I would make again. Reading comments on food network and the other blogs I might be in the minority though.

Thanks to Susy of Everyday Gourmet for this recipe. She ended up making two separate double layer 9 inch cakes instead of the sheet cake. Check out her blog to see how she changed the second cake up a little. Looks yummy.

Birthday Sheet Cake
Makes 1 12x18 inch cake

For the cake:
  • 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the frosting:
  • 24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Chocolate candies for decorating (recommended: M&M's)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
  2. To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour evenly into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.
  3. For the frosting, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted. Off the heat, add the corn syrup and vanilla and allow the chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the chocolate mixture and softened butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until it's thickened.
  4. Spread the frosting evenly on the cake. Have the children decorate the cake with chocolate candies.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cakes, cakes, cakes

Are you guys sick of cakes yet? I hope not because I'm not done with them yet. Today is the due date for Barefoot Bloggers but this is not my Barefoot Bloggers post. The Barefoot Blogger recipe is for a cake. And not for just any cake, it is for a half sheet cake. Well I actually have some stuff going on later this week where I could actually use a sheet cake so I am going to cheat a little and delay my post until then.

To hold you over until then here is another cake I recently made. My wife had a friend at work that recently got married and she wanted to have a party for them. I decided I could make the cake. There is a lot of pressure when you are making a cake from someone else and I was a little nervous about this one. For one thing my wife told me that Mohamed has a lot of friends so there would be somewhere between 50-100 people. Every site I found seems to have a different guideline to how much cake I needed for that many people. I decided to make a two layer half sheet which is my biggest cake yet. I was a little worried with how hard it would be to work with a cake of this size.

Mohamed and Gianna said they wanted a marble cake and the colors were purple and silver. I decided to do a cake similar to one in my fondant class that I liked. It used a lot of gum paste daisies ( 40 small, 12 medium, and 4 large). I spent a couple of hours over two nights making the daisies and playing with the design.

I have been making all scratch cakes but I decided for this one to use a mix to make at least part of this a little easier. Since I don't really make boxed cakes I wasn't prepared for how much it was going to rise. I filled the pan less than half full and it was over the top when it was done. I'll know better next time.

One thing I have never been successful at was using a real butter cream frosting. I decided this was the occasion to try again. I figured if it wasn't working out I could quickly make the "Wilton" butter cream recipe. It came out fantastic and wasn't too difficult to work with. It did get a little hard to work with when it started to get warm but I would just chill it for a little bit and it would be fine again. I can say it was definitely worth it. It was much better than the "Wilton" Crisco butter cream recipe. It melted in your mouth and tasted much better in my opinion.

The project was a big success. Everyone liked the cake and they liked the fabulous punch my wife made. I have to admit I liked the boxed cake better than the scratch cakes I have been making. I am very interested to see how the Barefoot Blogger cakes come out and see if they can beat the box for me. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: White Pizza with Arugula

Wow - just got back from a week long trip to visit family in Kentucky. Surprisingly good weather for Kentucky in August and lots of good food. I got my fill of Catfish, Hush Puppies, BBQ, Pies and Cobblers. I even managed to bring back 4 lbs of frozen KY BBQ to last me a little while. Enough talk about that - I am making myself hungry. I made this recipe a few weeks ago before I left so I will do my best to remember it.

The White Pizza with Arugula looked like a great recipe to me but I wasn't sure my wife would like it. I have been experimenting a little with cooking pizza at home (in the oven and on the grill) but my wife isn't a fan of white pizza so I had not done that yet. This was quicker than most pizzas I have made in that it only required 40 minutes for rising time total. It probably only took a little over an hour to make the whole pizza. It does call for a few "exotic" ingredients. I got the fontina - it is an expensive cheese but is a nice melting and tasting cheese so I figured it would be good here. Not fond of goat cheese so I skipped that and used a little feta that I had on hand in place of it. My supermarket did not have arugula so I ended up just getting a bagged spring mix to use in place of that. I made just 1/3 the recipe for two pizzas.

The pizzas were fantastic. When I first made the vinaigrette I was a little worried with how lemony it was but it worked very well on the pizza and wasn't too strong at all. My wife gave it too thumbs up as well. It is a nice meal having the pizza and salad all in one. If you don't like the salad idea I think the pizza would hold up on its own as well - throw some chicken or something on it and it would be great. The crust cooked up very well and my wife even ate all the crust which she does not normally do. I might end up making this my go to crust recipe now.

Thanks to Andrea of Nummy Kitchen for this months recipe. Looks like Andrea does do a lot of "Nummy" baking on her blog.

White Pizza with Arugula
(Source: Back to Basics, Page 82)
Makes 6 pizzas


For the dough:
  • 1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For the topping:
  • 3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
  • 11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled
For the vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces baby arugula
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Mix the dough.

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Portion the dough.

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Stretch the dough.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Top the dough.

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Make the vinaigrette.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add the greens.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

TIP Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop.

TIP Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour.

TIP To make sure yeast is still "alive," or active, put it in water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it becomes creamy or foamy, it's active.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday Victor!

Its been a month since Victor's Birthday so I figure it is about time to get this posted. This was the main reason why I took my cake decorating classes - so I could make a semi-decent birthday cake for my son. Victor is quite a fan of Elmo. Even before he watched Sesame street I would let him see the Elmo toy at Target and he fell in love with it. This birthday did not disappoint him - he got Elmo cake, plates, cards and gifts. I decided not to go with the Elmo pan and did a quarter sheet instead. I found and Elmo pic online and used that for my pattern.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Mango Banana Daiquiris

It has been a busy summer. We are going on a vacation in a week and this one kind of snuck up on me. I decided to make tonight barefoot blogger night and I made both of this months recipes tonight - and they are both fabulous.

I made the daiquiris virgin. My wife and I are not big drinkers and I didn't have any rum so I just decided to go without. It was very simple to put together. Just throw everything in the blender and blend - add ice and blend again - that's it!

This recipe reminds me of my trip to the Philippines around five years ago. It is normally very warm in the Philippines and one of the great things they had to tame the heat was a Mango shake. They called them shakes but I think they were just mango and ice. My favorite was a green mango shake - they use green mangos and the shake comes out nice and tart. This recipe kind of reproduces that tartness with the lime juice.

This recipe also got two thumbs up from the two year old. He loved it and kept asking for more.

Thanks to Veronica at Supermarket Serenade for this months recipe. Check out her blog for tips on buying the Mangos for this recipe.

Mango Banana Daiquiris
(Source: Back to Basics, page 47)
serves 4

  • 2 cups chopped ripe mango (1 to 2 mangos, peeled and seeded)
  • 1 ripe banana, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
  • 1/4 cup sugar syrup*
  • 1 1/4 cups dark rum, such as Mount Gay
  • Mango slices, for serving
  1. Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with the mango slices.
*To make simple syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Chill.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Peach & Blueberry Crumbles

It looks like it has been almost a month since I have posted here - I guess I have been slacking. It is sometimes hard to make time to cook in the summer. I do have to apologize to Kat of Delta Whiskey for not making the last recipe - Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad. I know I would have liked it but I would have been the only one. I almost missed making this recipe in time as well. Today is Victor's Birthday and we were busy all weekend with family stuff. I ended up making it at 8:30 last night.
The recipe is real easy - just a little more sophisticated version of a crumble or crisp that I would normally make. I don't think I have every made one with peaches - I don't know why since I LOVE peaches. The only comment I would make on the recipe is make sure you follow the directions to line the baking sheet since this makes a mess while cooking.
I am glad I did take the time to make this recipe - it was delicious. The peaches and blueberries were a nice combo (I am sure it would be good with cherries or raspberries as well). I think the lemon added a lot too. There is something about adding a little lemon zest that brightens up any recipe.
Thanks to Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen for this months recipe. It looks like Aggie is a very active blogger (over 80 posts so far this year) with a lot of healthy recipes with fresh ingredients. I am going to have to take the time to go through it better.

Peach and Blueberry Crumbles
(Source: Barefoot Contessa at Home, page 197-198)
Serves 5-6


For the fruit
  • 2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)
For the Crumble
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.
  3. For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and back for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles int he refrigerator and bake before dinner.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My first "real" cake

This past Sunday was Father's day and we took the opportunity to also celebrate my wife's brother's (Mark) birthday. I decided to practice some of my new cake knowledge on the family and give me a little practice before I have to make my son Victor's birthday cake in July.
I didn't know what Mark's favorite Disney character was so I had to come up with something else. Mark is a union pipe fitter. I didn't know exactly what a pipe fitter looked like on the job but you can see what I came up with. The grey/black border to the cake is supposed to be pipe. The little guy has a welding mask and is holding a candle as a makeshift welding torch.
The cake was a yellow cake and it turned out a lot better than the past few cakes I had made. I was almost ready to turn to a box cake after the past two scratch cakes I made. I filled the cake with a fresh strawberry french cream. The frosting is all the Wilton buttercream recipe only with a lot less Crisco and a lot more butter ( not as pure white but it taste better). The welder and tank were made from a fondant/gum paste mix. Doesn't look like an Ace of Cakes cake but I was very happy with how it came out. I think it looked pretty good and it tasted good as well - especially the strawberry cream.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Gazpacho

As I said in my last post Gazpacho is not something my wife would go for. She is not a tomato person and she doesn't like peppers at all. I did kind of want to try this though and not just skip the recipe. I decided to make it on father's day when we had other people over that could try it.
The recipe was very easy - you just throw everything in the food processor (one at a time) and give it a few pulses.
I should have thought about it a little because the recipe makes a lot - a least if you are not serving it as a main course. I wasn't really making it one of my main dishes on father's day since I knew a lot of people would not like it. I just figured I would let those that wanted to try it have it as a little appetizer. Well I totally forgot about it. While I was cleaning things off the table I noticed the bowl in the fridge so it was a little bit of an after thought. I tried it along with my Mom and my sister. I don't think anyone really loved it. I thought it was OK but it wasn't anything that I would just gobble up because it was sooo good. My sister thought it would have been better as a dip than as a soup. I think I agree with that - add a few hot peppers and it would be a good salsa.
I did still have a lot left over and my wife thought it might go over at her work. Well apparently it did. Everyone finished it off and we even got a few requests for the recipe. I guess she got the dip comment there as well. It won't go on my list to make in the future but I am glad other people liked it.
Thanks to Meryl from My Bit of Earth for this months recipe. I will be watching to see what she thinks of the recipe.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  1. Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!
  2. After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wilton Fondant Class: Final Cake

Well here it is - the final cake for my Wilton Fondant class. As a lot of people know fondant is not the most delicious frosting. It looks better than it tastes. In the class we were told to buy the pre-made Wilton fondant. For my final cake I thought I would try to do something different to see if I could make a fondant cake that I liked. If you look there are a lot of different fondants you can buy or make. The class instructor said making fondant was a lot of work but I found a recipe online that didn't seem too difficult. You just melt marshmallows and knead in a lot of confectioners sugar.

You can see the final outcome in the cake above. The homemade fondant was probably a little harder to work with - a little "stretchier" than the store bought Wilton fondant - but it was still pretty easy to use. I can't say it was easy to make. If you have ever mixed rice crispy squares by hand you know how messy it can get kneading melted marshmallows. I would have to say it
was worth it though. The fondant tasted a little better in my opinion, basically straight sugar taste so still not as good as some other frostings. It was a lot more tender than the store bought so you didn't feel like you needed to chew your frosting as much.

I've also got some photos of different gum paste items we made in class. I kind of doubt most of these will come in handy making
birthday cakes for my son but maybe I will get to use them someday. For anyone thinking they would like to get a little better at cake decorating I would highly recommend these classes. There are four separate classes (I have only taken two) and they are offered at Michaels and Joann stores here. I think you can find local classes at the site.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Curried Couscous

I was a little worried about this months Barefoot Blogger recipes. They are both recipes that I knew would be scary to my wife Lara. This is the first of the scary recipes. I knew it would be scary for several reasons:
  • She doesn't like yogurt.
  • She doesn't like nuts.
  • She doesn't like curry.
  • She doesn't like raisins.
I think that's the whole list but I think that makes more things that she doesn't like than likes in this recipe - not very good odds.

The recipe calls for raisins or dried currents. I have no idea where you would find dried currents so I decided to mix it up a little with dried cranberries. When I went to put everything together Lara sees me and asks if I was going to leave out the dressing, dried cranberries, nuts, and onions for her! I compromised and left out the nuts for her but left everything else.

The salad was a surprise hit. Lara even said it was good. The curry flavor was very muted and wasn't at all scary. There was only a 1/4 cup of yogurt so it was not even noticeable - just added a little moistness. Lara even said the dried cranberries were good in it. I think even though it had a lot of things she would not eat by themselves there was not too much of anything and all the flavors blended very well.

I enjoyed the salad a lot too. I think I will probably have to make it for a picnic or two this summer and see how it goes over. The dried currents sound good but if you can't find them I think the dried cranberries were a nice substitution - and they added a little bit of color.

Thanks to Ellyn of Recipe Tester and Collector for this months selection. It looks this recipe is a family favorite for her - thanks for sharing with all of us.

Curried Couscous
(Source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, page 94)
Serves 6

  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup small-diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
  • 1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup small-diced red onion
  1. Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wilton Fondant Class: FrankenCake

I took the Wilton I course a couple of months ago and it was a lot of fun so I decided it was time for a little more. I decided to check out the fondant and gum paste class. Fondant is the stuff they make a lot of wedding cakes out of and it is the stuff they use to make those perfect cakes on Ace of Cakes if you have ever seen that.

In the class you use rolled fondant and gum paste (or a mix of the two) for everything. Rolled Fondant is stiff and you can mold it or roll it out. Gum paste is the same but a little stronger and dries hard as a rock in a couple of days. The cake above is one that I made in the second week of class. It is a bit of a franken cake - it was more just to practice technique than to make a pretty cake. The blue covering for the cake is fondant and the embellishments are a 50/50 mix of fondant and gum paste. It is the gum paste that makes it stiff enough to let you do things like the draped sheet look in the above cake.

One thing the class makes you realize is that you would never want to make a cake like this. A lot of people don't really like fondant. It is not that it taste bad - it is mostly just sugar. It does have a stiff, chewy texture which I don't think is real pleasing on a cake.

A major reason I am taking these classes is because of my 22 month old son. I am going to be making a lot of birthday cakes in the future. I probably won't make any fondant covered cakes but I may be using some fondant/ gum paste to make little animals or people or whatever. Plus, I assume kids may not care that the texture is not great for frosting if it has enough sugar in it!

Watch next week for my final cake of this class.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Outrageous Brownies

How did I get so lucky - two Barefoot Blogger desert recipes in one month. If you like chocolate you should like this recipe. It is very rich and has a deep chocolate taste. I did leave out the nuts since my wife doesn't like them. I also cut the recipe in half and used a 13x9 pan. Who make a 13x18 pan of brownies??

The website shows this a being a dificult recipe. Well I am not really sure what makes it difficult. The only thing a little out of the ordinary is that you need to melt stuff in a double boiler - not too difficult and you could use the microwave for that step. I did have to double check to make sure I was making everything correctly since you have a big bowl of chocolate and add this little tiny bit of flour but it was correct. The trick with brownies is to cook them until they are just done and they will be nice and moist.

These came out excellent. The one complaint I did have was that the salt was a little much - I would cut that in half next time. I have seen that as a complaint on a lot of Barefoot Contessa recipes but with brownies it is a little hard to know how much to actually put in. Thanks to Eva at I'm Boring for this recipe - I'm always up for a desert recipe.

Outrageous Brownies
Makes 20 large brownies

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups diced walnut pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
  2. Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Lemon Cake

And now for this months second Mother's day post. Lemon cake was this months Barefoot Bloggers bonus recipe and it looked really good so I decided to try it out for a Mother's day desert. I can tell you one thing - don't make this if you don't like lemon. The cake has a lot of lemon zest and lemon juice in it. Then after the cake is cooked you brush it with a lemon sugar wash. I think the wash makes the cake extra moist too. To top it all off you pour a lemon glaze over the top.

I was a little concerned that not everyone would like lemon as much as I do but it wasn't a problem. Everyone cleaned their plate. Served with a few berries this was a very nice desert. Thanks (and congrats for winning this months BRC) to McKenzie of Kenzie's Kitchen for this months recipe.

Lemon Cake
Makes 2 loaves

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest lightly packed (6 to 8 large lemons - Use only fresh lemon juice and zest)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the glaze:
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans.
  2. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, the key to great cakes is beating the butter and sugar until the mixture's until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed add the eggs, (break the eggs into a dish before adding to the batter to avoid a bad egg or shells in the batter) 1 at a time, and the lemon zest. Sift together the flour, to make sure there are no lumps, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Separately, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  3. Cook 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, cool for 10 minutes, invert them onto a rack set over a tray and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  4. For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
  5. To freeze these cakes, prepare them except the glaze. Wrap them well in plastic wrap and freeze. When you're ready to use, defrost and glaze.