Thursday, December 23, 2010

Daring Bakers: Christmas Stollen

On the Daring Baker's website there was a lot of discussion about what the December recipe would be this year. It is always something for the Christmas season and a lot of people seem to fear the possibility that someone would pick fruitcake. It turns out there are a lot of fruitcake haters out there. Well this year they did - sort of. They pick stollen. Stollen is a traditional German fruitcake - but it is more of a bread than a cake since it is made with yeast. Traditionally stollen is shaped more like a loaf (supposed to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes) but we were to make ours in the wreath form you see above.

Well I am not a fruitcake hater. When I grew up my grandmother would make fruitcake every Christmas. I think it was pretty much a traditional southern fruitcake and I still enjoy it when I can get it. I have never made one myself though so I was excited at the thought of making the Stollen this month. The Stollen can be pretty easy to make if you use all store-bought ingredients but I decided to make a few of them.

I have not got out the candy thermometer in a while but I needed it twice for this recipe. The first thing I made was the candied citrus peels. These taste a lot better than anything you would buy and I used this recipe to make them.

The second thing I made was some marzipan. Marzipan is a traditional filling for a stollen and it was something I wanted to experiment with so I decided to make some. My father doesn't like the almonds that are in a traditional marzipan so I decided to experiment and use pecans in place of the almonds. I have never heard of anyone making pecan marzipan but I figured it was worth a try. I used this recipe - as a starting point. Instead of grounding the pecans I just processed them in the food processor. I think that left them a little course and it ended up not being quite as much of a paste as a normal marzipan but it worked great in the stollen.

The only other modification I made to the recipe was that I used raisins, blueberries, cherries, and cranberries instead of just raisins and I also used a mix of cherries and pineapple in place of the glace cherries. I also substituted some course chopped pecans for the almonds.

The resulting stollen was fantastic. It looked beautiful in the wreath shape. It is a nice deep brown color and with all the powdered sugar on top it looked and tasted fantastic. I really liked the pecan marzipan - I like almonds but I think the pecans were really good in this. It is a heavy bread but nowhere near as heavy as a traditional fruitcake.

I thought it tasted pretty good but a week or so after I made it I made the discovery that elevates this above a traditional fruitcake for me. Like any fruitcake this is supposed to store well. Like a normal bread it does start to get a little dry after a while. Well many people had posted that it was normal to eat it toasted and normal to put butter on it. Well toasted with butter was incredible - like a good cinnamon raisin toast - only better. I was going to be saving some for Christmas to share with the family but I have finished off half the loaf (the other half went to a pot luck) myself. I still enough of the citrus peels and marzipan for another so I think I will try making a smaller loaf - maybe in the traditional shape so I can bring it to Christmas dinner at my mom's.

Thanks to Penny at Sweet Sadie's Baking for this months challenge. It was good to get everyone to try out a fruitcake - some found they liked it (an some found out they really didn't). Also thanks to Audax at Audax Artifex - He provided a lot of hints and I used recipes he provided for the citrus and marzipan. If you have not checked out his blog - do it - he takes all of the daring kitchen challenges to a whole new level. I think he has made at least 4 completely different stollen for this challenge.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow Cream

This is a little bit of a departure from most of the posts I do but it it something I have been wanting to do for a long time. The name of the blog is A Cooking Dad and most of the posts focus on the cooking - this one focuses on being a dad (but still a little cooking thrown in).

One good food memory I have from my childhood is snow cream. This is probably
a foreign concept to most of you - I have never heard of anyone else making it. I found three main variations on the Internet. One version is made with eggs, milk, sugar, and snow. The second is sweetened condensed milk and snow. In the third you actually make a custard and mix it with the snow. I don't really know how my grandmother made it. I think she may have actually made a custard and mixed it with the snow. I'll have to try to figure out what the official family recipe is, but for now, I just made the version with the sweetened condensed milk.

Before I describe how it tastes let me say this recipe is more about fun than tasting good. This is not going to taste like Hagen Daz if that is what you are expecting. It is not as creamy as ice cream but the texture is not bad. The taste is pretty much the taste of sweetened condensed milk. In the future I think I will try some of the other version as I think they may taste better - but the project was a success. My son had a ton of fun gathering the snow to make ice cream and it tasted great to him.

Snow Cream
Serves 4

  • 1/2 can (7 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Snow - I used about 6-8 cups of fresh, light and fluffy snow
  1. Mix the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.
  2. Gather the fresh snow. Pour the condensed milk mixture over the snow and stir until well combined.
Note: Watch out for the yellow snow!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Crostata

This month for Daring Bakers the challenge was to make a crostata. A crostata is basically just the Italian version of pie. It can be made in a tart pan or made free-form. The filling was up to us but the host showed versions filled with jam and with pastry cream. Well for me either of those sound fantastic - especially the pastry cream version. Problem was the timing meant this would be a perfect dessert to make for my wife's birthday and she has pretty much the opposite taste of me when it comes to dessert.

I decided to compromise. I would attempt to make a chocolate and pastry cream version. I
made half of the pastry cream recipe in the challange and poured it in the bottom and poured some chocolate ganache on the top. I made the crust, ganache, and
pastry cream all with a little bit of orange zest added since I think orange goes well with chocolate. I wasn't really sure how it would work baking the ganache but it turned out incredibly. The chocolate was just the right consistency and the pastry cream helped offset the strong chocolate flavor just enough. My wife and I both loved it.

This months challenge was hosted by Simona at briciole. Simona has an Italian cooking blog ( she is an Italian woman living in California) that looks fantastic. An interesting thing that I have not seen before - her blog posts all include an MP3 of her pronouncing all the Italian words in the blog. Cool idea for people trying to learn Italian or just if you want
to sound better ordering Italian food.

If you want to try your own crostata here is the challange we used with the recipe for the crust and the pastry cream -Daring Bakers' Crostata Challange.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Daring Bakers: Apple Doughnuts

I have been looking forward to this one. In fact I was thinking if I was to ever take a turn creating a Daring Baker challenge it would be doughnuts. Unfortunately I had scheduled myself to do this towards the end of October and my son and myself ended up getting sick so I missed the deadline for this recipe. I thought about it and decided - who cares about the deadline - I've wanted to make them so I went ahead and made them a week late.

The challenge was doughnuts - any kind you can imagine. You could make cake or yeast doughnuts - they could be plain, decorated, filled... I can't really say there is a doughnut that I don't like but I have always liked a good fried cake. I used to buy one every week at the end of doing my summer paper route - they were still warm when I got it. I did decide to dress it up a little. It is currently apple season here in the US so I thought I would see what I could do by adding some apples. They were really good - little pieces of apple in every bite. They weren't too sweet or too greasy. Being a cake doughnut they are a little heavier than a yeast doughnut but I thought these turned out pretty nice and fluffy for a cake doughnut. My dough was very wet but the recipe said it would be. It was hard to pick them up to fry - I think the key is a lot of flour when rolling out the dough. My only question about the recipe - how do you flip a doughnut hole??? They do not want to turn over.

Thanks to Lori at Butter Me Up for this challenge. I envy her getting to make three different types of doughnuts for the challenge.

Apple Doughnuts
Makes about 15 doughnuts and doughnut holes

  • 2 Apples, peeled, cored, and chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider + more for glaze
  • All Purpose Flour 3 ¼ cup / 780 ml / 455 gm / 16 oz + extra for dusting surface
  • White Granulated Sugar ¾ cup / 180 ml / 170 gm / 6 oz
  • Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
  • Baking Powder 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
  • Kosher (Flaked) Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz (If using table salt, only use ½ teaspoon)
  • Nutmeg, grated 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / .3 oz
  • Active Dry Yeast 1 1/8 teaspoon / 5.6 ml / 3.5 gm / .125 oz
  • Buttermilk ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoon / 210 ml / 225 gm / 7 ¾ oz
  • Egg, Large 1
  • Egg Yolk, Large 2
  • Pure Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon / 15 ml
  • Powdered (Icing) Sugar 1 cup / 120 ml / 65 gm / 2.3 oz (Used for decorating and is optional)
  • Sugar and Cinnamon for topping
  1. In a small sauce pan heat the chopped apples and cider until apples are starting to get soft ( about 10 minutes). Allow to cool.
  2. Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C.
  3. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg; make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the well; pour the cooked apples over it. Allow it to soften (if using packed fresh yeast), about 1 minute.
  4. Pour the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract into the well. Using one hand, gradually draw in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be fairly smooth before you draw in more flour. Mix until it is completely incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour.
  5. Sift an even layer of flour onto a work surface. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the doughnuts sticking to your counter. Scrape dough out of bowl onto the surface; sift another layer of flour over dough. Working quickly, pat dough into an even 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness. Dip cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place holes and doughnuts on a floured surface. Working quickly, gather scraps of dough together, pat into 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness, and cut out remaining doughnuts and holes.
  6. Drop three to four doughnuts at a time into the hot oil. Once they turn golden brown, turn them and cook the other side. Cooking times may vary, but with my oil at 375 °F/190°C, I found they only took about 20 to 30 seconds per side.
  7. Once cooked, place on a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.
  8. If desired place doughnuts in a cinnamon sugar mixture and toss to coat.
  9. You can make a glaze with 1 cup of powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of milk, water, or apple cider. The glaze should be fairly thick but line drawn in it with a spoon will smooth out in a few seconds. You can spread the glaze on with a knife or simply dip half of the doughnut in the glaze.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Popovers

The second Barefoot Blogger pick of the month was popovers. At first I was going to skip it since I didn't have a popover pan and didn't really want to get one. Then I read the recipe and it said I could use custard cups. Since they would go good with the potato chowder I was making I decided to give it a try.

They were very easy to make and came out perfectly. They are a little differently shaped than ones made in a popover pan, a little more short and squat, but they taste just the same.

Make 12 popovers

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Generously grease aluminum popover pans or Pyrex custard cups with softened butter. You’ll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Do not peek.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I was never very good at Spanish in high school but I decided to give it another go and have been taking a community ed class in Spanish. It is still just as hard as I remember. Time will tell if I manage to learn enough Spanish to be valuable but I am having some fun in the class. Last week we had a lot of fun since we had a pot luck to celebrate Spanish heritage month.

I was one of the last ones to get to pick an item to bring so I was thrilled when desert was still available. I signed right up but was not sure what I was going to bring. My first thought was Tres Leches. The only deserts I really knew were tres leches and flan. After doing some research on the internet I found something called Flancocho which is a layer of cake and a layer of flan with the caramelized sugar on top. It said it was a Puerto Rican desert so I thought that it might be kind of cool to make since my teacher is from Puerto Rico.

The hard part turned out to be finding a good recipe. Most recipes were in Spanish and they varied a lot. Seems the traditional way to make it is on the stove in a double boiler, but there were also recipes that bake it using a water bath. Some recipes put a cooked cake in the raw flan then cook it, some crumble a cake into the flan and then cook it, and some put the raw cake batter on the raw flan and cook it. I saw cooking times anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Anyway, I combined what I thought would work with the equipment I had and I think it came out pretty good.

The cake was super moist and the flan was good and creamy with the caramel sugar on top. The teacher went back for seconds and I got a few compliments in class so I was not the only one who thought it was good. The teacher said she was not used to the flan with the cake so it must just be from certain regions or something.

Here is what I came up with:

Serves 12-15


For the caramel
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
For the flan layer
  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
For the cake layer
  • 1 yellow cake mix and ingredients for mix

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in middle of oven.
  2. Heat some water (about 8-10 cups) to boiling to use for the water bath.
  3. Mix the sugar and water together in a small microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high until a light golden color (5-6 minutes). Do not allow it to get to dark or it will taste bitter. You can also heat on the stove. If you heat on the stove do not add the water. As soon as the caramel is cook pour it into a bundt pan and tip to coat all the sides as much as possible. It will start to harden immediately.
  4. In a medium bowl or standing mixer, mix all of the ingredients for the flan until well mixed, about 2 minutes.
  5. In another medium bowl prepare the cake mix as directed on the box.
  6. Pour the flan mixture into the bundt pan on top of the caramel. Pour the cake batter on top of the flan mixture (Don't worry - it will float).
  7. Place the bundt pan into a roasting pan or cake pan to use for the water bath - use the smallest tall sided pan you have that will fit the bundt pan. Pour the boiling water into the outer pan to go up the side of the bundt pan several inches.
  8. Place in the oven and cooking until a toothpick inserted in the cake layer comes out clean (60-70 minutes).
  9. Allow the cake to cool on the stove for about 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cake with a knife and allow to cool to room temperature. Flip the cake onto a deep serving platter. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: East Hampton Clam Chowder (Not Really)

No Barefoot Bloggers last month but it looks like it is back now. The first pick of the month was for East Hampton Clam Chowder. I love clam chowder but, unfortunately, my wife does not. I decided to adapt this into something she would eat by getting rid of the clams and adding a little bacon for some extra flavor.

I am sure I would have loved the clam chowder even more but it was fantastic this way as well. Thanks to Laura at Family Spice for this pick. I love the look of her blog.

I'll post my version of the chowder without clams but if you want to try out the version with clams you can see it here on the site. Hopefully I get to try it some day.

Potato Chowder
Serves 6-8

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 8 tablespoons (1 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups medium-diced celery (4 stalks)
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots (6 carrots)
  • 4 cups peeled medium-diced boiling potatoes (8 potatoes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart (4 cups) chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Shredded Chesse (optional)
  1. Cook the bacon in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot or dutch oven until just crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
  2. Pour off all but 4 tablespoons of the bacon greasefrom the stockpot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. In a small pot, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in a cup of the hot broth and then pour this mixture back into the cooked vegetables. Simmer for a few minutes until the broth is thickened.
  4. Add the milk and about 3/4 of the bacon and heat gently for a few minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Garnish with the rest of the bacon and some shredded chesse if you like. Serve hot.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Decorated Sugar Cookies

This months Daring Bakers challenge is probably something I should have tried in the past but never have -Decorated sugar cookies using royal icing. If you have never used royal icing it is basically just sugar and water and you can mix it to a consistency so that it kind of flows onto the cookie. When it sits for a little while it become hard. It normally has a glossy look and can make some very professional looking cookies if done right.

Part of the challenge this month was the theme. We were supposed make cookies in the theme of September - that is whatever September means to us. Well I chose motorcycles both because in my opinion Septemeber is one of the most beautiful times for riding (unfortunately also one of the last months here in Minnesota) and it is also the month of our CMA State Rally. I just got back from the rally last month and had a wonderful time.

I pictured these in my head as looking a lot better but I can say it is not as easy as it might seem. When I made the first set of colors (red/yellow/blue) I had issues with my icing and it never got hard - it would also separate when it sat. I did some searching on the web and people suggested that it was because of some contamination with oil - I didn't think that was the issue. I also saw that it was maybe too much water. When I made it I did have to add almost twice as much water as the recipe said and it was still stiffer than the recipe said. I happened across one article that suggested not beating it for as long as most recipes say - just until combined. I tried another batch doing that (Black and White) and it turned out great.

I still have no idea how some people get it them to be so perfect - maybe it would help to be able to draw - but at least I learned something and will hopefully do better next time. It was a good skill to learn with a three year old.

Thanks to Mandy at What the Fruitcake?! for this months challenge. Go take a look at her beautiful cookies.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Oven-Fried Chicken

This has been a fun month of artery clogging recipes. Starting out with grilled cheese (made extra bad by adding mayonnaise), then on to two desserts, and now we finish it with fried chicken. This gives the illusion of being healthy by saying it is oven-fried, but after looking at the recipe you quickly discover it is anything but healthy.

This was a pretty standard fried chicken recipe with two exceptions. The first is that you soak the chicken overnight in buttermilk. The second is that you pan fry it just to brown the skin, then you finish it in the oven. I am not sure if either of these made for better fried chicken but I would say it was at least as good as other fried chicken I have made. The time in the oven probably does help give the chicken time to drip off some of the oil - so maybe it is a little healthier. You do end up with more dishes with the extra step but it is kind of nice to have time to prepare the rest of your dinner while the chicken is in the oven.

Thanks to Vicki at My Fair Lady for this pick. She added some spices to give the chicken some more flavor - sounds like a good idea to me.

Oven-Fried Chicken
Serves 6

  • 2 chickens (3 pounds each), cut in 8 serving pieces
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil or vegetable shortening
  1. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1-inch and heat to 360 degrees F on a thermometer.
  4. Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will continue to brown in the oven). Don't crowd the pieces. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow the oil to return to 360 degrees F before frying the next batch. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ice Cream Petit Fours with Brown Butter Pound Cake

This months Daring Bakers Challenge was to make either Ice Cream Petit Fours or Baked Alaska. I wanted to make both and I was just discussing Baked Alaska with someone but I decided the Petit Fours would be much more practical. It is kind of hard to transport a Baked Alaska and I wanted to bring them to someone else's house for a dinner.

After seeing all the creativity in the Daring Bakers group last month I wanted to do at least something different. It is fun to see the different flavor combinations or other things (Baked Alaska on a Stick anyone?) that everyone does. I decided to keep it pretty simple and make a mint ice cream for mine. I just followed the same recipe except I steeped a few springs of mint leaves in the hot cream instead of the vanilla beans.

I think they turned out super. I have never had it before but turns out that brown butter pound cake is fantastic. I could have just eaten all the batter without cooking it - it tasted like butterscotch candy. The mint ice cream was good. My wife didn't like it even though she likes mint chocolate chip - but she is not a big fan of spearmint. Next time I should maybe try just adding some peppermint oil or something. Also if you want it to look like a store-bought mint you will need to add some coloring - it turned out very light green - I think it looked nice though.

These make a nice looking dessert. I decorated mine with Wilton Candy Melts (kinda like a white chocolate). I just stuck twenty or so of them in a piping bag and put them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. My three year old loved prying the decorations off the top of the petit fours and eating them. These are a fairly low-guilt dessert - not that they are healthy but they are small enough you don't have to feel too bad about eating one.

This months challenge was provided by Elissa at 17 and Baking. Check out her blog - fantastic cook, writer, and photographer and she is just 18 years old.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Mixed Berry Cheesecake

If I had to pick my perfect desert it would probably be cheesecake. I have made a few cheesecakes in my day and haven't really had one I haven't liked (just keep the chocolate and caramel away from my cheesecake).

Looking at this cheesecake it seemed pretty normal to me. It didn't have cream like most others I have made. It also didn't need a water bath - I am all for that if it works. The other thing that seemed a little unusual was that they have you put the graham cracker crust 1 inch up - I kind of like the way it the crust looks this way.

This was definitely not the time of year for the berry topping - I think about a month late. The berries were all expensive and the strawberries needed a lot of picking through. I would say the cake was a good to average cheesecake. That is not a bad thing - even an average cheesecake is a very good desert - just not sure it was the best cheesecake I have ever had. It looked great and didn't even crack.

Thanks to Nathalie of Snowbell Jewelry for this month's pick.

Mixed Berry Cheesecake
Servers 12-15

For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
  • 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
  • 1 cup red jelly (not jam) such as currant, raspberry, or strawberry
  • 1/2 pint sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
  4. To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.
  7. To make the topping, melt the jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, toss berries and the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Ultimate Grilled Cheese

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese is the Barefoot Blogger bonus recipe this month. Ina Garten has a new cookbook coming out called How Easy Is That? and we get to try out some of the recipes early. I almost didn't try this recipe since it called for a panini press. A panini press is one of those things that might be cool to have but I would only use it a few times a year and it would be taking up room all year so I don't get one. I thought I would see if I could make it without a press.

Instead of the press I just made it in a heavy pan and pressed it down with my spatula. The sandwiches were good but I had a few problems with it. The cheese didn't completely melt - I will assume this is because I didn't use a press. It was also a little salty for me - should have left the salt out. Other than that they were great. I also didn't notice until I got home from the store that it called for aged Gruyere - I am sure it would have been even better if I had got the right cheese.

Thanks to Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake for this months bonus recipe. Looks like she got away without a press too.

Ultimate Grilled Cheese
(Source: How Easy is That? by Ina Garten)
serves 6

  • 12 slices thick-cut bacon, such as Nodine’s applewood smoked
  • 1 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 white pullman loaf or sourdough bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick (12 slices)
  • 6 tbsp salted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz aged Gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 6 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, such as Cabot or Shelburne Farms
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the bacon on a baking rack set over a sheet pan in a single layer and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels and cut in 1-inch pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Lay 12 slices of bread on a board and spread each one lightly with butter. Flip the slices and spread each one generously with the mayonnaise mixture. Don’t neglect the corners!
  3. Grate the cheeses in a food processor fitted with the largest grating disk and combine. Distribute the bacon evenly on half the slices of bread. Pile 1/3 cup grated cheese evenly on top of the bacon and top with the remaining bread slices, sauce side down.
  4. Heat an electric panini press. When the press is hot, cook the sandwiches for 3 to 5 minutes in batches until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Allow to cool for 2 minutes. Cut in half and serve warm.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

A little something different this month for the Barefoot Bloggers. We got to pick between two different Barefoot Contessa Blueberry Muffin recipes. We could either make her Blueberry Coffee Cake muffins or her Blueberry Struesel muffins. I decided to go for the struesel version because - well because there is struesel on them.

I had a bunch of blueberries in the freezer and almost used them but it is blueberry season and they were on sale very cheap so I decided to go for the fresh ones. I kind of doubt it makes much of a difference in muffins but might as well. The recipe went together very easily and the muffins were delicious. I could have used more struesel but maybe that is just me. The copy of the recipe I was using didn't say how many it made and I started it late at night so I currently have half the batter in the freezer and will probably attempt to make that in a day or two. I'll post a comment on how that goes.

Thanks to Maria of Close to Home for this pick. Looks like she one upped me by picking her own berries. I'll have to do that soon since I know my 3 year old would enjoy it. I'm hoping for less desert this month - as you can see from this months posts I have been eating too much of it.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
(Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, page 244)
Makes about 24 muffins

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (2 half-pints)
For the Streusel Topping
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in to a large bowl and blend with your hands. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest, and eggs. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing just until blended. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Don’t overmix! With a standard (2 1/4″) ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cups, filling them almost full.
  3. For the topping, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the butter is in very small pieces. Pour into a bowl and rub with your fingers until crumbly. Spoon about 1 tbsp of the streusel on top of each muffin. Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

I might be crazy but I have decided to try something new. I started this blog mainly as a way to force myself to do something a little challenging in the kitchen and to try some new things I might not try otherwise. I have been doing Barefoot Bloggers for a while now and have been able to try lots of new things with that but I have always wanted to try a more dessert focused challenge. I have decided that Daring Bakers is the right challenge for me. It is only once a month so it won't give us too many extra calories and a lot of the recipes look like they might end up being quite challenging. A lot of the challenges give a lot of room for creativity - we will see how I do with that since I normally have a hard time doing much different than the recipe.

At least for this first month I am not being particularly creative or "daring". I can already see a lot of the other bakers with very unique flavor combinations (Chili chocolate fudge Swiss swirl cake with sour cherry, coffee ice cream, pistachio nut butter ice cream, and vanilla ice cream or prickly pear, boiled chocolate treacle and vanilla sugar swiss rolls with Mixed Berries ice cream, saffron ice cream, honey and candied fig ice cream, and blue champagne ice cream). I am pretty sure you are never going to see that kind of creativity coming from me.

The idea for this recipe challenge came from the Taste of Home magazine. The recipe was very simple - you just stick together swiss cake rolls with ice cream and hot fudge. Our hostess Sunita made this into much more of a challenge since for Daring Bakers we had to make all the components.

I did decide to change things up slightly. In Sunita's version the ice cream recipes were nothing like ice cream recipes I am used to. They were both very simple and contained no eggs and you did not cook them. I decided to make the vanilla using Sunita's recipe but I made a more traditional chocolate where you cook a custard and freeze that for the ice cream - that way I could compare the very quick and easy version with a more traditional ice cream.

The recipe was not very hard, except maybe getting the swiss cake rolls to not fall apart while putting them in the bowl. It did take a lot of time though making it. I took a little over one day putting it together and freezing all the layers. For some reason the hot fudge layer took forever to freeze. I used the cake at a forth of July party and everyone loved it. It looked fantastic too. As far my ice cream experiment goes - I think the traditional ice cream was the winner but the quick version wasn't bad at all. Was kind of interesting that on the one piece that wasn't finished the vanilla ice cream didn't seem to ever melt but the chocolate sure did.

Thanks to Sunita at Sunita's World for being this months hostess. She has a beautiful blog with a lot of good looking stuff to try.

Swiss roll ice cream cake (inspired by the recipe of the same name from the Taste of Home website)

The Swiss rolls-

Preparation time- 10 minutes
Baking time- 10-12 minutes
Rolling and cooling time- at least 30 minutes
Filling-5-8 minutes
Filling and rolling- 5-10 minutes

  • 6 medium sized eggs
  • 1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling
  • 6 tblsp / 45gms/ a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
  • 2 tblsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water
  • a little oil for brushing the pans
For the filling
  • 2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar
  1. Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
  3. Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.
  4. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.
  5. Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.
  6. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it.
  7. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
  8. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.
  9. Repeat the same for the next cake as well.
  10. Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.
  11. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.
  12. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.
  13. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).
  14. Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

The vanilla ice cream-

Preparation time-5 minutes+freezing

I have made the ice cream without an ice cream maker.

  • 2 and ½ C / 625 ml / 20 fl oz of whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, minced or 1 tsp/ 5 ml/ .15 fl oz vanilla extract
  • ½ C / 115gms/ 4 oz of granulated sugar
  1. Grind together the sugar and vanilla in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and vanilla –sugar mixture and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together. If you are using the vanilla extract, grind the sugar on its own and then and the sugar along with the vanilla extract to the cream.
  2. Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

The Hot fudge sauce-

Preparation time-2 minutes
Cooking time-2 minutes

  • 1 C / 230gms/ 8 oz of caster sugar
  • 3 tblsp / 24gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tblsp /15gms/ 1 oz of cornflour/cornstarch
  • 1 and ½ C /355ml /12 fl oz of water
  • 1 tblsp /14gms/ 1 oz butter
  • 1 tsp/5 ml / .15 fl oz vanilla extract
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and water.
  2. Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool .

The chocolate ice cream-

Preparation time- 5 minutes + freezing

  • 2C/ 500 ml whipping cream
  • 1 C/230gms/8 oz caster sugar
  • 3 tblsp/ 24 gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Grind together the sugar and the cocoa powder in a food processor .
  2. In a saucepan, add all the ingredients and whisk lightly.
  3. Place the pan over heat and keep stirring till it begins to bubble around the edges.
  4. Remove from heat and cool completely before transferring to a freezer friendly container till firm around the edges. If you are using an ice cream maker, churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instruction, after the mixture has cooled completely.
  5. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

  1. Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).
  2. Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.
  3. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).
  4. Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)
  5. Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm . ( at least an hour)
  6. Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set .
  7. Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.
  8. Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Victor!

I know everyone says how fast they grow up but it is true. Victor's third birthday was on July 22nd and we had his party on Saturday at one of the local parks. One of his favorite TV shows right now is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so I decided to attempt a cake using that as the theme. Everything you see here - except for the candles is edible and made with a marshmallow fondant. It was a fun time and Victor enjoyed himself very much. It totally makes the hard work of making a cake like that worth it when you get that kind of smile back.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I think this is my fourth post in less than a week - a lot for me. Even though our leader over at Barefoot Bloggers gave us ever time to get our cooking done over the summer I still almost didn't make it on this one. Looked too good to pass up though and it is always easy to get rid of some coffee cake at my wife's work.

I made one mistake while making this recipe. I bought a Nordic Ware Bavaria Bundt Pan a few years ago. This is not something I would normally but without having a use for it but it was at our company store for less that $10 so I couldn't pass it up. After buying it, it has sat in our cupboard ever since. When this recipe came up I figure it was my perfect opportunity to try my pan.

It is a beautiful pan, heavy cast-aluminum with a nice design and a non-stick finish. I figured out there was one issue when I got to the part where I put the batter in the pan and it says to do half batter, half streusel, half batter, half streusel. When the cake is done it wants you to flip it out streusel side (or bottom side) up. I can't really display a cake from this pan bottom side up. I wasn't sure if it would work to put the streusel in first so I made a little but of a sacrifice and decided to have both streusel layers inside the cake - this means I don't have a nice streusel topping. My second issue came in plating the cake. The pan, even with non-stick finish ( oiled and floured ) did not want to let go of the cake. You can see in the picture above that I lost a small layer on the top of the cake. Not sure if a different cake would work out better or not.

Despite my issues, the cake was a big winner. I sent a bunch of it to my wife's work and got these comments back:

"Yum! It was awesome!"

"I think it was your husband's best cake to date, but then again I'm not much of a cake and frosting guy. This was coffee cake? Superb!"

I would have to agree that it was really good. Very moist and good flavor. I especially like the hint of maple flavor from the glaze - I love maple anything.

Thanks to Gwenn of Cooking in Pajamas for this pick. Check out the picture of her Sour Cream Coffee cake - that is what it is supposed to look like.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
(Source: Barefoot Contessa Parties!, Page 37)
Yields 8-10 servings

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the streusel:
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
For the glaze:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
  3. For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
  4. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

Barefoot Bloggers: Scalloped Tomatoes

Here is something a little different. I wasn't really sure what this would be like but I have been wanting to try something like this for a while so I didn't want to pass this one up.

It is about a month early for fresh tomatoes here in Minnesota so I ended up using some Roma tomatoes. I think that was a good choice since I saw lots of comments on the food network site about soggy bread - the Roma tomatoes were so meaty that soggy bread is not an issue. The store I shopped at didn't have a French broule so I used a loaf of French sourdough and it worked well.

I served this for my father's day dinner and it was a big hit. Nice crispy chewy bread along with tomatoes and garlic and cheese. I ended up serving them just slightly above room temperature and they were great but they would be even better a little warmer. As someone on the food network site commented - "Think bruschetta hot on your plate". Thanks to Josie of Pink Parsley Catering for this pick.

Scalloped Tomatoes
Source: (Barefoot Contessa Farm Stand Food)
Makes 6 servings

  • Good olive oil
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from a French boule, crusts removed
  • 16 plum tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.
  4. Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Father's Day Part 2: Southern Banana Pudding

Here is the promised Father's day part two - dessert. My Dad was born and raised in Paducah, Kentucky and anyone from the south knows how common banana pudding is. I used to have it all the time while growing up as it was something my grandmother made quite a bit - but I have not had it much as an adult. I was just talking about it with my parents - discussing what makes a good banana pudding (instant pudding should not be on the ingredient list - and preferably no boxed pudding). I don't think I had decided to make it for father's day at that point - but then a blog I follow - The Brown Eyed Baker - posted a recipe for Southern Banana Pudding that looked delicious so I just had to try it out.

I doubled up the recipe for 9 people and had no trouble getting rid of this one. It has been a long time since I have had my grandmothers banana pudding but this was a lot like I remembered it. The only difference was that I don't think she ever used whipped cream. My father said she often put a meringue on top so try that for a variation if you like but the whipped cream was good too.

I won't post the recipe on my blog - just click here to get it directly from the Brown Eyed Baker. If you like cooking then definitely check out her blog - it is one of my favorites.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Father's Day Part 1: Pulled Pork

Seems like I have been slacking off lately but I have been busy. I decided to do some grilling
this father's day. There are a lot of recipes out there for quick pulled pork - this is not one of those. This is as close as I could get to the real thing while still using a gas grill.

This recipe was a lot of fun. It is not difficult at all but it does take some time. It takes six hours after you start cooking - and that doesn't count the time it takes to season the meat. All the time was definitely worth it though. The meat was very tender and very well seasoned. Everyone at the party seemed to like it a lot - several people went for seconds and thirds.

Watch for Father's Day part two where I going to post my father's day dessert.

Pulled Pork
(Source: The new Best Recipe, page 598)
Serves 8

  • 1 bone-in pork roast, preferably Boston butt (6 to 8 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup dry rub for barbecue (recipe posted below)
  • 4 cups wood chips (I used hickory but you could also use mesquite)
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce (use any sauce - my recipe posted below)
  1. If using a fresh ham or picnic roast, remove the skin ( no need to remove skin on a Boston Butt ). Massage the dry rub into the meat. Wrap the meat tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. For stronger flavor can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  2. At least 1 hour before cooking, remove the roast from the refrigerator. Soak the wood chunks in cold water to cover for 1 hour and drain. Place the wood in a smoker box or make one from heavy duty foil pierced with a fork to allow smoke to escape. Place it on top of the primary burner. Turn all burners to high and preheat until the chips are smoking heavily, about 20 minutes. Turn the primary burner down to medium and turn off the other burners. Set the unwrapped roast in a disposable pan over the cool part of the grill, and close the lid. Barbecue for 3 hours. (The temperature inside the grill should be a constant 275 degrees, adjust lit burner as necessary.)
  3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Wrap the pan holding the roast with heavy duty foil to cover completely. Place the pan in the oven and back until fork-tender, about two hours.
  4. Slide the foil-wrapped pan into a brown paper bag. Crimp the top shut. Let the roast rest for 1 hour.
  5. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and unwrap. When cool enough to handle, "pull" the pork by separating the roast into muscle sections, removing the fat, if desired, and tearing the meat into thin shreds with your fingers. Place the shredded meat into a large bowl. Toss with 1 cup of the barbecue sauce, adding more to taste. Serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.

Dry Rub for Barbecue
(Source: The New Best Recipe, page 579)
Makes about 1 cup

  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for several weeks.
Basic Barbecue Sauce
(Source: Williams Sonoma Grilling, page 14)
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups catsup or tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon, more or less, cayenne pepper
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over moderate heat and add onion and garlic. Cook gently, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the catsup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, chili powder, and cayenne to taste.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Grilled Herb Shrimp (Chicken)

It is still spring but it feels like summer here in Minnesota even though it is a month early. This week up to the nineties and very high humidity. Here is a nice summery recipe to kick off the season. We just had a shrimp recipe a few months ago and now we get another one. Last time I actually went and got some shrimp but I was feeling too lazy this time to make two versions for my wife and I so I just made a chicken version of this recipe.

I am sure the shrimp would have been fabulous but I can say that chicken is a great option too. You could probably do at least six breasts with the recipe. This was a great spring/summer recipe with all the fresh herbs - and I love most anything on the grill. This would be a wonderful recipe for a party - easy to prepare ahead of time and it cooks up really quick.

Thanks to Penny at Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen for this recipe pick. In her blog she says she needs a new neighbor across the lake and I might have to start saving now because the lake (and her cottage) looks beautiful from her pictures.

Grilled Herb Shrimp ( or Chicken)
Yields 6 servings

  • 2 pounds large shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled and deveined (see note)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small-diced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  1. Combine all the ingredients and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  2. Skewer the shrimp. I use 3 or 4 shrimp on a 12-inch skewer for dinner. Heat a grill with coals and brush the grill with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Grill the shrimp for only 1 1/2 minutes on each side.
Note: I leave the tails on when I'm peeling the shrimp. If using chicken use 6 split boneless skinless breast cut in 3/8 inch strips and increase cooking time a little (3-4 minutes per side).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Spring Green Risotto

I was hoping for a recipe I could use in my Mother's Day meal this month but since I decided to do a brunch thing it didn't quite work out that way. After cooking a big Mother's Day meal I had to make the first recipe of the month the next day so I was at least hoping for quick and easy - I didn't get that wish either.

The recipe was a typical risotto with all the constant stirring that goes with a risotto. I like risottos but it is something that is hard to make while watching a two year old. It is also hard to make anything else for your meal since they require a fair amount of attention. This risotto was probably even more complicated than most since you have to cook a bunch of veggies to start and then you blanch and add the asparagus half way through along with a bunch of other ingredients.

It sounds like I am complaining. This was really good and it is not really hard to make - it just takes time. The flavors were all really good together. I hardly ever make anything with fennel in it but I love the flavor of it. Thanks to Kimberly at Indulge and Enjoy for this pick. She has a lot of good looking vegetarian recipes on her site.

Spring Green Risotto
(Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, page 147)
Serves 4 for dinner, 6 for appetizer

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 1 cup chopped fennel
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 pound thin asparagus
  • 10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving
  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)
  3. When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.
  4. Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Grandma's Enchiladas

Happy Tres de Mayo everyone! Unfortunately we will not be dining at home on the 5th and I was in the mood for Mexican food so I decided to make these up yesterday. I have made them before and I think it is currently my favorite Mexican recipe. With my wife not eating peppers or spicy food, it kind of limits the Mexican food, but this recipe has a lot of good flavor without being overly spicy. I love how you cook the meat until it is fall apart tender and are making the enchilada sauce at the same time in the same pot - way better than any canned sauce.

Grandma's Enchilada's
(Source: Cook's Country October/November, page 27)
Serves 6

  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1½ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12 (6 inch) corn tortillas

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat beef dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half the beef, turning occasionally, until well browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining oil and beef.
  2. Pour off ll but 1 tablespoon of fat from pot. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin,coriander, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until spices darken, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce and wine and bring to boil.
  3. Add browned beef, along with any juices, to pot. Transfer pot to oven and cook, covered, until meat is fork tender, 2 to 2 ½ hours. Transfer beef to large bowl. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids, and set aside. You should have about 2 cups sauce.
  4. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees. Spread 3/4 cup sauce over bottom of 13 by 9 inch baking dish; set aside. When beef is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces. Add 1 cup cheese and additional 1/4 cup sauce and toss to combine.
  5. Spray tortillas on both sides with cooking spray and arrange on baking sheet. Bake until they are warm and pliable, about 1 minute. Place 1/3 cup beef mixture in middle of each tortilla. Roll tightly and arrange, seam-side down, in prepared baking dish.
  6. Pour remaining sauce evenly over enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake until cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Jam Thumbprint Cookies

I don't think there have been any cookie recipes so far for Barefoot Bloggers and now this month there are two. Unfortunately I was on vacation the beginning of this month and did not get to make the Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies. I may have to go back to that one because they sound really good. I decided this recipe would be a good opportunity to do something I have been wanting to do for a long time - cook with my 2 1/2 year old son.

I have let Victor do a little cooking with me but I decided this might be a little better than most of my projects. There are some tasks he could do and have fun with and the fact that they were cookies would make it a little more fun for him.

The cookies were a great success. Victor helped add ingredients to the mixer and he helped clean off the mixer beater when we were done with it. It was also his job to roll the cookies in the coconut. As you can see in the picture below there may be more coconut in his cheeks than there is in the bowl.

The cookies were really good. Unfortunately I have do not have any homemade jam so I used some store bought raspberry and peach jams. I have had similar cookies in the past but without the coconut. I think the coconut was a nice addition but I made a few without for my wife. Thanks to Cassandra at Foodie with Little Thyme for this recipe pick. The eclairs for her son look really good.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Yield 32 cookies

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • Raspberry and/or apricot jam

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Caesar Club Sandwich

If I had to pick my favorite food a good sandwich has to be high on the list. It is hard to beat a good New York sub or a Bánh mì. Even though I say this a good sandwich like this is something I never make.

I did make a few changes when I put this together. Since I can't ever seem to find arugula I ended up just using some leaf lettuce. Also I knew my wife wouldn't like the sun-dried tomatoes so I left those off as well. I know it would have been better without those changes but I can say that this was a terrific sandwich even with the changes I made. This has to be one of my favorite Barefoot Blogger recipes so far.

Thanks to Karen of Shortbread for this pick - I really liked this one. And check out her blog for lots of southern cooking. I have to try the ham salad recipe she has listed for another sandwich.

Caesar Club Sandwich
Serves 3

  • 2 split (1 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 large ciabatta bread
  • 2 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 12 sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
  • 2 to 3 ounces Parmesan, shaved
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan skin side up. Rub the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. Cool slightly, discard the skin and bones, and slice the meat thickly. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, place the pancetta on another sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to drain on paper towels.
  4. Place the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until minced. Add the anchovy paste, mustard, lemon juice, and mayonnaise and process again to make a smooth dressing. (Refrigerate the Caesar dressing if not using it immediately.)
  5. Slice the ciabatta in half horizontally and separate the top from the bottom. Toast the bread in the oven, cut side up, for 5 to 7 minutes; cool slightly. Spread the cut sides of each piece with the Caesar dressing. Place half the arugula on the bottom piece of bread and then layer in order: the sun-dried tomatoes, shaved Parmesan, crispy pancetta, and sliced chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and finish with another layer of arugula. Place the top slice of ciabatta on top and cut in thirds crosswise. Serve at room temperature.