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.