Saturday, November 17, 2007

Low-Fat Fudgy Brownies

And finally the recipe! These were really tasty, chocolaty brownies--and low fat! Of course ice cream tops them off wonderfully. :)

Fudgy Low-Fat Brownies
America's Test Kitchen

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 T unsalted butter
2 T low-fat sour cream
1 T chocolate syrup
2 t vanilla
1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350.
Fold 2, 12-inch pieces foil lengthwise so each measures 7 inches wide. Fit sheets into 8-inch square pan, pushing foil into corners and up sides of pan (to help remove brownies--optional).
Spray foil or pan with cooking spray.
Whisk dry ingredients together.
Melt bittersweet chocolate and butter in large bowl until smooth. Cool several minutes, then whisk in sour cream, syrup, vanilla, eggs, and sugar.
fold in dry ingredients until combined.
Pour batter into pan. Bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few sticky crumbs attached, 20-25 min.
Cool completely on wire rack.


Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Coming soon!

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Compound Butters

Cranberry Honey Butter

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Alsatian Apple Tart

Coming soon!

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Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew

This is one of my favorite vegetable stews. It is perfect for a fall day and has wonderful flavors. I love butternut squash and it's sweetness is nicely balanced by the combination of spices in the stew. Today I added parsnips along with the carrots and squash--yum! The spiced quinoa really goes well with it. It's nice to use an alternative grain, like quinoa, for a change from the normal rice, bulgur, or couscous. It has great texture and is beautiful too! This is definitely one of my favorite recipes. And my husband will eat it too!! Continue for recipe.

Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew
Bon Appetit


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 ounce)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (from 1 1/2-pound squash)
2 cups 3/4 inch cubed, peeled carrots (I used use a little more squash and a little less carrots)


1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups water

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

1. For stew: Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

2. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Mix in paprika and next 8 ingredients.

3. Add 1 cup water, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Add squash and carrots.

4. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

5. For quinoa: Rinse quinoa; drain. Melt butter with oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

6. Add garlic, salt, and turmeric; sauté 1 minute. Add quinoa; stir 1 minute. Add 2 cups water. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

7. Rewarm stew. Stir in half of cilantro. Spoon quinoa onto platter, forming well in center. Spoon stew into well. Sprinkle remaining herbs over.


Herbed Turkey Stock

Getting ready for Thanksgiving!! Yeah! This is the first year that it will be at my home and I can't wait! Both of my sisters and their husbands are flying in for the celebration. I just love Thanksgiving. It's such a warm, comforting time full of food, family, and heavenly smells. Only one more week!

I decided to start my preparations in advance so that I'm able to relax when my sisters are here. So I made my turkey stock from a recipe from Fine Cooking. I'll use it for my gravy on Thanksgiving. I roasted turkey parts with aromatic vegetables, then simmered them with fresh herbs: thyme, sage, and parsely. After straining, I popped it in the freezer. The aroma was great! Recipe coming soon!

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Grandma's Cranberry Bread

My grandmother always had a loaf of cranberry bread in her freezer to have ready when we requested it. We loved it. "I want cranberry bread, Grandma!" It reminds me of her home in Missouri and her kitchen, in which she was always preparing good meals for us. Comforting food. Old-fashioned home-cooking. She served this bread for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and usually included small tins with her holiday baskets filled with goodies that she made for family and neighbors. Sometimes, she baked in tin cans, giving the bread a nice round shape. Sadly, my grandma doesn't remember how to bake anymore--having succumbed to the slow progression of Alzheimer's--but she does remark, "I think I used to make something like this!"

It's recipes like this bread that provide a special connection through the generations and a sense of continuity with those that have come before us. It's important for me to preserve these family culinary traditions, passing them along and keeping the memories alive. My grandma's memories may be gone, but a portion are still alive with me and my family to enjoy and cherish and share with our children.

So, with a theme of Traditional Feasts, I am going to contribute this post to the Monthly Mingle blog event, and pass on this traditional recipe to others as well. Enjoy! Continue for bread recipe.

Grandma's Cranberry Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cups cranberries, sliced round or coarsely chopped (or closer to 1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons shortening
1 cup nuts (I like walnuts)
1 tablespoon orange rind, or a bit more
juice of one orange plus enough boiling water to make one cup liquid (or 1 cup orange)

1. Sift first five ingredients together twice. (Alternatively, pulse in food processor.)

2. Add shortening to cup of hot juice (it should melt some); add eggs and rind.

3. Add juice mixture to dry ingredients; fold together.

4. Add chopped nuts and cranberries.

5. Bake at 350 degrees until edges start to color and toothpick inserted comes out clean. (This is roughly 30 minutes, more or less, for 2 loaf pans).


Monday, November 5, 2007

Blueberry Muffins

My husband, being such a thoughtful guy, wanted to bring breakfast to the office today for one of his less fortunate co-workers, " The Giant." Apparently, they make friendly wagers over sporting events, and "The Giant" continually loses, forcing him to pay for lunch. My husband just thought he'd do something kind for the loser, in anticipation of "The Giant's" eminent downfall next week. Someday he will learn--my husband is the WINNER!! :) So, these cinnamon-topped blueberry muffins are en-route to the office--enjoy!

Recipe coming soon!

Blueberry Muffins
from The Best Recipe


Monday, October 22, 2007

Pumpkin Muffins, Bread, and almost Cupcakes

Pumpkin season is here! And it's finally getting cool in Houston. It's fall! Time for lots of squash. :) These are my favorite spicy pumpkin muffins (or bread). Cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon combine perfectly with the pumpkin, getting even better the day after baking. And so moist! I usually cut back on the oil and use buttermilk and or applesauce to fill in. Today, I added dried cranberries, but they're also great with walnuts. This is such a versatile recipe. And they freeze wonderfully. I always freeze one of the loaves or several muffins.

I had every intention of turning these into cupcakes with an orange-clove cream cheese frosting for the Cupcake Hero event hosted by Laurie of Quirky Cupcakes and Stefani of the Cupcake Project but they didn't make it that far. Next time!! They're so good to grab on-the-go for breakfast that I just didn't get to the frosting. Anyway, I used pastry flour (part cake flour) to make them lighter and more cupcake-like. For bread, I think I like the texture of all-purpose. But yum! I'll have to make more for cupcakes! Continue for pumpkin recipe.

Spicy Pumpkin Bread

by Rose

2 cups sugar ( I usually use part brown sugar--can cut down to 1 2/3 cups if just making it for myself)
2/3 cup oil (or even 1/2 if you're really dieting :) --then substitute the rest with buttermilk to equal 1 cup)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1-2 T applesauce
3 large eggs
1 can solid pack pumpkin (16 ounce)
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional but good!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend.
Mix in eggs and pumpkin.
Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl.
Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Mix in walnuts, if desired.
Divide batter equally between prepared pans.
Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.
Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Coconut "Twinkie" Cupcakes with Lemon Filling

My love affair with Asian desserts and pastries started last year during a vacation to SanFrancisco. I just couldn't get enough of the delicious Chinese bakeries, with my favorite steamed red bean buns. Sponge cakes, almond cookies, egg custard tarts, filled buns, moon cakes...Yum!! Upon returning home, I was excited to try some of the local bakeries. And although I haven't yet found the perfect steamed bun, Houston has a large Asian community and many options for wonderful sweets. What a great benefit of living in a large, multi-cultural city!

Anyway, I was very excited to try my first recipe for a friend's birthday from The Sweet Spot: Asian Inspired Desserts by Pichet Ong and Genevieve Ko. This cookbook has beautiful looking sweets! These cupcakes were great--light and airy, with a subtle crunch from the coconut and a tart lemon curd filling. I only piped a small amount of the curd into the cupcakes, about a tablespoon or less, and it was perfect. I topped them with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, hiding the hole for the filling. Cute! You will hear from this cookbook again! Continue for Cupcake recipe.

Coconut Twinkie Cupcakes with Lemon Filling
from The Sweet Spot, Asian-Inspired Desserts

Lemon Filling

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 t vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)
1/2 t salt

Coconut Cupcakes

1 T unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing ramekins
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sugaring ramekins
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened dried coconut
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 T grated lemon zest
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract

To make Filling:

  • Put all ingredients in a double boiler or in bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Whisk constantly until the mixture becomes very thick, like jam, about 15 min. (Mine took quite a bit longer for some reason).
  • Remove from heat, put a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd, and refriegerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours.
For the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter and sugar 12 4oz. ramekins or a 12-cup muffin tin; set aside.
  • Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the coconut; set aside.
  • Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk at medium-high speed until frothy. With the machine running, slowly add 1/3 cup of the sugar and continue whisking until medium-soft peaks form. Transfer to another large bowl.
  • Put the egg yolks and zest in the mixer bowl and whisk at medium speed until the yolks break, then add the salt and the remaining 2 T plus 2 t sugar and continue whisking until the yolks are pale yellow, thick, and doubled in volume, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the vanilla to the yolk mixture and whisk until well incorporated. Add 1/3 of the whipped whites to the yolks and stir well. Carefully fold in the remaining whites just until incorporated, trying to make sure they do not lose volume. Fold in half the flour mixture, then fold in the remaining flour until no traces of flour remain.
  • Divide the batter among the ramekins or muffin cups. If using ramekins, put them on a baking sheet. Bake for 4 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake until a tester comes out clean and the tops are puffed and golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then unmold and cool completely on a rack. The cake will deflate as they cool.
  • Transfer the chilled lemon filling to a pastry bag filled with a small plain tip. Poke a hole in the top of each cupcake with the tip, and slowly pipe in the curd until it begins to squirt out the opening. You will be able to feel when the cupcake is filled.
  • Serve the same day.

  • Continue......

    Basic Sourdough Bread

    What a wonderful loaf! This is another great recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. The bread's deep flavor was developed over 3 days and the resulting loaves were terrific! After feeding my starter (or barm, which I like to keep fairly wet, about the consistency of pancake batter), a firm starter was made and then allowed to ferment overnight. The next day, the final dough was mixed, rose, and then shaped. The loaves were retarded in the refrigerator overnight and then baked on the following day.

    Both the texture and flavor are really nice in this bread. I used all King Arthur Bread flour for these loaves. The result was slightly chewy but beautiful airy with a perfectly crunchy crust. I'm excited to try many variations of this basic recipe! Continue for Sourdough recipe.

    Basic Sourdough Bread
    from the Bread Baker's Apprentice

    Makes two 1 1/2-pound loaves

    Firm Starter
    4 oz barm (wet starter--fed)
    4.5 oz bread flour
    1-2 oz water

    Final Dough
    20.25 oz bread flour
    .5 oz sea salt
    12-14 oz lukewarm water

    Semolina flour for dusting

    1. Remove starter from the refrigerator and measure it out 1 hour before making the firm starter to take off the chill.
    2. Add the flour to the bowl and mix together the barm and the flour, adding only enough additional water so that you can knead this into a small ball. You don't need to work this very long, just until the flour is hydrated. Lightly oil a small bowl and place the starter in the bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover.
    3. Ferment at room temperature for approx. 4 hours, or until the starter has at least doubled. Put it into the refrigerator overnight.
    4. Remove the starter from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough. Cut it into about 10 small pieces with a knife or pastry scraper. Mist with spray oil, cover with plastic and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.
    5. To make the dough, stir together the flour and salt in large mixing bowl. Add the starter pieces and enough water to bring everything together into a ball as you stir with a large spoon.
    6. Sprinkle the counter with flour, transfer the dough to the counter and knead by hand for 12-15 minutes. Adjust the water or flour as needed. The dough should be firm but tacky. It should pass the windowpane test. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, coating it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
    7. Ferment at room temperature for 3-4 hours, or until dough has nearly doubled in size.
    8. Gently remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 equal pieces (or smaller if making rolls), being careful to degas the dough as little as possible. Gently shape the dough into boules, batards, or baguettes.
    9. Proof the dough in bannetons or proofing bowl (lined with towel, sprayed with oil, then floured), or on parchment-lined sheet pans that have been dusted with semolina flour. Mist the exposed part of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap. Proof the loaves for 2-3 hours, or retard overnight in the refrigerator, removing them approx. 4 hours before baking them the next day (I proofed overnight with these).
    10. Prepare the oven for hearth baking with a baking stone in the bottom 3rd of the oven and a steam pan on the top shelf. Preheat the oven to 500. Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the dough 10 minutes before baking.
    11. Generously dust parchment lined peel with semolina flour and gently transfer the dough to the peel. Score the dough. Slid the dough onto the stone. After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water and close the door. Repeat 2x more at 30 second intervals. After the final spray, lower the oven setting to 450 and bake for 10 minutes. rotate the loaves 180 degrees and continue baking for another 10-20 minutes. They should be a rick golden brown allover, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
    12. Transfer the finished loaves to a rack and cool for at least 4 minutes before slicing.


    Sunday, October 7, 2007

    Pizza Napoletana

    Ok, I love pizza. :) This is yet another crust recipe and another trial from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. The dough was allowed to ferment overnight and thus, the flavor of this dough was really nice. However, I didn't care for the consistency. While the edges of the crust were ok, it was very thin and chewy in the center. I used part all-purpose, part bread, and part whole wheat flours. For my next dough, I'll try an overnight rest using part semolina flour. It was a good pizza though--herbed goat cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil--how can you go wrong? Continue for Pizza recipe.

    Pizza Napoletana
    from The Bread Baker's Apprentice

    20.25 oz. hi-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled (I used: 9.5 oz bread, 2 oz wheat, and 8.75 oz all-purpose, put in freezer 30 min. to chill)
    .44 oz salt
    1 t instant yeast
    2 oz olive oil
    14 oz water, ice cold

    Semolina flour for dusting

    Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. With a large spoon, stir in the oil and water until the flour is all absorbed. If mixing by hand, work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass. Do this for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. If using an electric mixer (as I did), mix on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, until smooth and sticky. Dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky.

    Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment and misting with oil. Cut the dough into 4-6 equal pieces. Sprinkle flour over the dough. Flour hands, lift each piece, and round it into a ball. Transfer dough to the sheet pan. Mist with oil and cover with plastic. Rest in the refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days (or freeze).

    Remove dough balls from refrigerator 2 hours before making pizza. Dust counter with flour then mist with oil. Place the dough on top of the counter and sprinkle with flour; dust hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks and 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with flour, mist again, and cover with plastic. Rest for 2 hours.

    45 minutes before baking, place a baking stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible.

    Dust a peel with semolina flour. make the pizzas one at a time. Flour your hands, and stretch dough by bouncing (I ended up rolling out my crusts directly on parchment).

    Lay dough on the peel. Lightly top it with sauce and toppings. Slide pizza onto stone and close the door. Bake 5-8 minutes.


    Greta's Apple Torte

    Last week I visited my dear friend Greta and her 2 little ones in Indiana. There is just something about old friends that's so wonderful and comfortable! She is such a great mom--it was so fun to see her with her family. She is a wonderfully creative person and so great in the kitchen--making tasty desserts and meals for us in college. She always had some fun treat for us to try or biscotti waiting for company. Her countless gifts of food and handmade cards are so special to me and really exemplify what a blessing food can be to others. The time and work put into making these goodies demonstrate her thoughtfulness and love for her friends. When I think about my home, I hope that is as welcoming and comforting as Greta's. Love you so Greta!

    For my visit, Greta made this terrific apple torte. It was really good and I had to make it when I got home. And it's so easy and fun to make! A buttery, shortbread-like cake batter is spread on the bottom of a pan, stuffed with standing apple slices, dusted with cinnamon, and then baked. After an hour, a custardy mixture of eggs, butter, and sugar is poured over the top and it continues to bake until golden and set. Yum! The smell is fabulous and the resulting torte is gorgeous. Thanks friend!! Continue for Greta's Apple Torte recipe.

    Greta's Apple Torte

    ¾ cup salted butter (or add 1 t salt if using unsalted)
    2 c. sugar
    4 eggs
    2 t baking powder
    8 small apples, peeled, cut into 8ths

    8-9 inch springform pan (or 9 inch cake pan with at least 2 inch sides)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Melt ½ cup margarine.
    Add 1 cup sugar and beat well.
    Stir in 2 eggs and mix.
    Add 1 ¾ cup flour and baking powder (and salt if using unsalted butter); beat well.
    Spread in bottom of pan.

    Stand apple wedges in batter and sprinkle with cinnamon.

    Bake for 1 hour.
    Cream remaining butter and sugar (and a small pinch of salt if using unsalted butter). Add eggs.
    Pour over torte.
    Bake 30 min. longer.
    Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.


    Beef Chili with Kidney Beans

    This is just a great basic beef chili. Nothing fancy or out-of-the-ordinary, but really nice flavor. I usually fuss around with my chilies, and love to add butternut squash, allspice, and cocoa which pair so nicely with the chili and meat. But today I wanted something basic--no messing around--and this was the perfect recipe from The New Best Recipe. And it tastes even better the following day. Great for a day of football! Continue for Chili recipe.

    Beef Chili with Kidney Beans
    from The New Best Recipe

    2 medium onions, chopped fine
    1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch strips
    6 medium garlic cloves, minced
    1/4 cup chili powder
    1 T ground cumin
    2 t ground coriander
    1 t red pepper flakes
    1 t dried oregano
    1/2 t cayenne pepper
    2 lbs. ground beef
    2 (15 oz) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
    1 (28 oz) can tomato puree
    Pinch of sugar (if needed)

    Heat several T oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onions, pepper, garlic, and spices and cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft and beginning to brown.
    Increase the heat to medium-high, and add halt the beef. Cook, breaking up the chunks with a spoon, until no longer pink. Ad the remaining beef and cook until no longer pink.
    Add the beans, tomatoes, puree, and 1/2 t salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
    Remove the cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer (if the chioli looks too thick, add a bit of water).
    Adjust the seasonings with additional salt to taste.

    **Flavor improves the longer it sits. It's even better the day after cooking.

    Black bean variation: Fry about 8 slices of chopped bacon in your stock pot. Pour off all but 2 T of the fat, leaving the bacon in the pot. Follow directions above, substituting black beans for the kidney beans.


    Stuffed French Toast

    It' s been a long time since we've had French Toast! Today I made my french toast with multigrain sourdough, soaked in an egg, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon mixture, and browned on the griddle. I was feeling indulgent and so decided to go for the stuffed variety. :) Usually, I like ricotta lightly sweetened with powdered sugar and zest. But I had leftover honey and walnut cream cheese and so I slathered that between 2 slices of toast instead. I heated several ripe peaches in maple syrup and topped the french toast with the peaches and powdered sugar. I absolutely love weekend breakfasts!


    Thursday, October 4, 2007

    Enchiladas and Spanish Rice

    Today was one of those days when I got home from work, starving, and didn't have much in the fridge. I needed something fast that didn't involve fresh produce. :) I had bookmarked these cheese enchiladas and spanish rice from Simply Recipes quite some time ago, and decided to give them a try. What a nice and easy meal!! I think the entire process took only 30 minutes to prepare--and how tasty!! Thanks Elise for a wonderful dinner! I keep going back to her recipes because they have all been so good.

    For the enchiladas, corn tortillas are first lightly toasted in a frying pan before rolling with cheese to bring out their flavor. I had never done this before and it really made them flavorful. The technique is great also--this was a great trick to learn. The sauce is so simple but very good: Fire-roasted tomatoes, salsa, onion, garlic, tomato paste, water, and a pinch of sugar. I filled the enchiladas with a Mexican cheese blend. After assembly, they only bake for 10 minutes and they're done! Paired with the Spanish Rice, they are a filling meal, made with ingredients that I usually have on hand. Another great find from Simply Recipes! Continue for recipes.

    from Simply Recipes

    Grapeseed oil (or another high smoke-point oil such as peanut or canola oil)
    12 corn tortillas
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 clove of garlic, minced
    1 cup of salsa
    3 Tbsp of tomato paste
    1 cup water
    1 cup of canned crushed tomatoes (preferably fire roasted)
    Olive oil
    1 lb of jack cheese, mild cheddar or longhorn or any mild yellow cheese, grated (Mexian blend is great)
    A handful of cilantro
    1 cup of sour cream
    Half a head of iceberg lettuce

    1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2 In a large fry pan at high heat add 3 Tbsp of grapeseed oil. Add a tortilla to the pan. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath. Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.
    2 Sauté up the chopped onion and garlic, then turn off the heat. Add 1 cup of salsa. Dissolve 3 Tbsp of tomato paste into 1 cup of water, add to pan. Add 1 cup of crushed fire roasted canned tomatoes. Taste. If the sauce tastes too vinegary, add a teaspoon of sugar.
    3 Put some olive oil on the bottom of a large casserole pan. Take a tortilla, cover 2/3 of it lightly with the shredded cheese, then roll up the tortilla and place it in the casserole pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled and rolled. Add sauce to the top of the tortillas in the the casserole pan. Make sure all are covered with the sauce. If not, add a little water. Cover the whole thing with the rest of the grated cheese. Put the casserole in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.
    4 Garnish with cilantro and sour cream. Serve with sliced iceberg lettuce that has been dressed only with vinegar and salt.

    Spanish Rice
    adapted from Simply Recipes

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 onion, chopped fine
    1 garlic clove, minced
    2 cups of medium or long-grain white rice
    3-4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if vegetarian)
    1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste or 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes, strained (I also tossed in the remaining tomatoes from the enchiladas sauce)
    Pinch of oregano
    1 teaspoon salt

    In a frying pan, brown rice in olive oil, medium/high heat. Add onion and garlic.
    Cook onion rice mixture, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, or until onions are softened.
    In a separate sauce pan bring stock to a simmer. Add tomato sauce, oregano, and salt.
    Add rice to broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Lower heat and cook 15-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
    Serves 4 to 6.


    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Cinnamon Buns: Daring Bakers Challenge!

    What a wonderful recipe for this month's Daring Baker's Challenge: Cinnamon or Sticky Buns from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. They smelled so delicious coming out of the oven! I couldn't sleep because of the lovely aroma--I just wanted it to be morning so I could have a bun! Thanks Marce (Pip in the City), for your choice!

    I have to admit, I waited to the last minute for this month's challenge. I wanted to make both sticky and regular varieties but didn't leave myself the time. They were really very easy to make and assemble. I love Reinhart's recipes--they are so nice to follow and give great instructions. This cookbook makes great bread baking so accessible to the home baker. I definitely recommend it for anyone wanting to learn about yeast breads.

    Although I think my grandma's sweet rolls are still my favorite, these rolls were very good. The dough was great to work with, soft but not sticky, slightly sweet, and had a hint of citrus that smelled amazing even while kneading it. Instead of the lemon extract I used Princess Cake Flavor, giving it a bakery taste with vanilla, butter, and lemon scents. Yum! I also used this flavoring in the fondant glaze that was drizzled on the warm buns. (I only made 1/4 of this glaze and it was the perfect amount--all of it would have been so overwhelmingly sweet.) I think orange would be wonderful too.

    Just several notes for next time I bake them....I'll make them a bit smaller and place them closer than 1/2 inch apart--almost touching-- in a round cake pan instead of a baking sheet. My favorite buns were the soft ones on the inside that were really smushed up against their neighbors. Also, I will roll out the dough a little thinner. The recipe specifies 2/3 inch, but mine was closer to 1/2. I'll use more of the cinnamon-sugar mixture next time as well. I only used about half of the mixture and felt they needed a little more. Raisins would be tasty! And I must try these with all butter--I think the flavor of the dough would be richer.I look forward to trying the sticky buns! These rolls tasted and looked like they had come from a bakery. Thanks Daring Bakers! Another fun and yummy challenge! Check out all of the other delicious looking buns on the Daring Baker's Blogroll. Continue for Cinnamon Bun recipe.

    Cinnamon and Sticky Buns
    from Peter Reinhart´s The Break Baker´s Apprentice

    Days to Make: One (1); Active/Resting/Baking Time: 15 minutes to mix, 3 1/2 hours fermentation/shaping/proofing, 20 - 40 minutes to bake

    Recipe Quantity: Eight(1) - twelve (12) large rolls or twelve (12) - sixteen (16) small rolls


    6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar

    1 teaspoon salt
    5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 ounces) shortening or unsalted butter or margarine**
    1 large egg, slightly beaten
    1 teaspoon lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon grated zest of 1 lemon**
    3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour**
    2 teaspoons instant yeast
    1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature OR 3 tablespoons powdered milk (DMS) and 1 cup water**
    1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon)

    White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns or caramel glaze for sticky buns (at the end of the recipe.)

    Walnuts, pecans, or other nuts (for sticky buns.)
    Raisins or other dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or dried cherries (for sticky buns, optional.)

    Step 1 - Making the Dough: Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening or butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand).Note: if you are using powdered milk, cream the milk with the sugar, and add the water with the flour and yeast.Whip in the egg and lemon extract/zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes), or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

    Step 2 - Fermentation: Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

    Step 3 - Form the Buns: Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.

    Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don´t roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns, or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

    Step 4 - Prepare the Buns for Proofing:For cinnamon buns: line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart so that they aren´t touching but are close to one another.For sticky buns: coat the bottom of 1 or more baking dishes or baking pans with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high with a 1/4 inch layer of the caramel glaze. Sprinkle on the nuts and raisins (if you are using raisins or dried fruit.) You do not need a lot of nuts and raisins, only a sprinkling. Lay the pieces of dough on top of the caramel glaze, spacing them about 1/2 inches apart. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.

    Step 5 - Proof the Buns: Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may also retard the shaped buns in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.

    Step 6 - Bake the Buns:Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with the oven rack in the middle shelf for cinnamon buns but on the lowest shelf for sticky buns.Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes or the sticky buns 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are baking sticky buns, remember that they are really upside down (regular cinnamon buns are baked right side up), so the heat has to penetrate through the pan and into the glaze to caramelize it. The tops will become the bottoms, so they may appear dark and done, but the real key is whether the underside is fully baked. It takes practice to know just when to pull the buns out of the oven.

    Step 7 - Cool the buns:For cinnamon buns, cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops, while the buns are warm but not too hot. Remove the buns from the pans and place them on a cooling rack. Wait for at least 20 minutes before serving.For the sticky buns, cool the buns in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove them by flipping them over into another pan. Carefully scoop any run-off glaze back over the buns with a spatula. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

    Toppings for the Buns:

    White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns:

    Cinnamon buns are usually topped with a thick white glaze called fondant. There are many ways to make fondant glaze, but here is a delicious and simple version, enlivened by the addition of citrus flavor, either lemon or orange. You can also substitute vanilla extract or rum extract, or simply make the glaze without any flavorings.Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and 6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.When the buns have cooled but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops. Or, form the streaks by dipping your fingers in the glaze and letting it drip off as you wave them over the tops of the buns. (Remember to wear latex gloves.)

    Caramel glaze for sticky buns:

    1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature.2. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.3. Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container.


    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    SHF #35: X Shaped Fig Cookies

    Figs are the theme of this month's Sugar High Friday blog event, hosted by Ivonne from the lovely Cream Puffs in Venice. Great selection! I was excited because I have to admit, I've never baked with figs. So this was a treat--using a new ingredient for me. I had planned to go a local orchard and pick fresh figs, but I ran out of time and missed them for this year. So I chose these X shaped cookies from Baking with Julia.

    These treats are a beautiful version of the classic fig newton. The filling combines figs, golden raisins, almonds, orange, chocolate, cinnamon, and rum--a wonderful combination when blended together. The soft dough is easy to work with and both the filling and dough are made in the food processor--easy! The assembly does take a bit of time but the rolled result is an enticing cross shaped cookie with a sweet figgy filling exposed on the inside. Nice! Perfect for an afternoon snack or with coffee for breakfast. A great first recipe using figs! Continue for X cookie recipe.

    X Shaped Fig Cookies
    adapted from Nick Malgieri, in Baking with Julia

    The Dough

    4 cups all-purpose flour
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 t baking powder
    1 t salt
    2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
    4 eggs

    Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse just to mix.
    Add the butter pieces to the bowl and pulse 15-20 times to cut the butter in.
    Add the eggs and pulse until the dough forms a ball on the blade.
    Remove the dough and knead it briefly on a lightly floured counter until smooth.
    Shape the dough into a log and wrap it in plastic wrap; set aside while making the filling.
    (Don't clean processor--use it to make filling.)

    The Filling

    One 12 oz package dried Calimyrna or Mission figs (I used a 9 oz bag)
    1/2 cup unblanched almonds, toasted
    1/3 cup apricot preserves
    1/4 cup plump golden raisins (I used about 1/2 cup)
    1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced (I didn't have this and used zest, juice, and pulp from 1 orange)
    2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
    1/4 cup dark rum (I didn't have this--used 1/2 t rum extract)
    1/2 t cinnamon

    1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt, for egg wash
    Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

    Remove stems from the figs and cut the figs into medium-size dice. (Figs and raisins should be moist; if not, plump them with boiling water before using.)
    Put all filling ingredients into the bowl of the food processor and pulse with the metal balde until the mixture is finely chopped.
    Scrape the filling onto a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper. Shape it into a rough log; divide into 12 pieces.
    Position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 350 degrees.
    Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

    Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Working with one at a time, on a lightly floured counter, roll the dough under your hands to form an 8-10 inch rope. Pat it out into a 3 x 8 or 10 inch rectangle.
    Run a spatula under the dough to make certain it hasn't stuck to the surface.
    Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash.
    Roll a piece of filling to the same length as the dough; place it in the center of the dough.
    Pull the dough up around the filling,k making a seam, and roll it into a cylinder, lengthening the dough a little as you roll.
    Cut the roll into 2 or 3 inch pieces.
    Place a cut piece of dough vertically in front of you, seam side down, and make two 1-inch long cuts, one from the bottom, the other from the top, toward the center.
    Use your fingers to separate the slashes and create an X-shaped cookies.
    Transfer the cookies to the prepared pans and repeat with remaining portions of dough and filling.

    Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes, or until just slightly browned, in 2 batches. Transfer to racks to cool.
    Before serving, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.


    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    My Zucchini Orange Walnut Bread

    Growing up, zucchini bread was always a staple at my grandma's house. She either had one in the oven or in the freezer. She frequently made hers with pineapple, which made a moist loaf, or with raisins. I've adjusted my recipe several times and decided on a very good loaf made with walnuts and applesauce. But this time, I fine tuned the recipe again and YUM! The results were wonderful! I'm really quite proud of this loaf. :)

    It is so light and tender for a zucchini bread. I used pastry flour instead of all-purpose, a great substitution for low-fat baking. Cutting back on the fat, I used part applesauce and this time added part buttermilk for the liquid ingredients. And for a new twist on the flavor, I added orange zest. It really went nicely with the cinnamon and walnuts. So moist and delicious!! Continue for Zucchini Orange Bread recipe.

    Zucchini Orange Bread
    by Rose

    3 cups pastry flour**
    1 t salt
    1 1/2 t baking soda
    1 t baking powder

    3 t cinnamon
    1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
    Zest of one orange
    3 eggs
    1/3 cup oil
    1/3 cup buttermilk
    1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
    3 t vanilla
    2-3 cups zucchini (I usually go with 3)

    1 cup chopped walnuts

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare 2 loaf pans for baking.
    Combine first five ingredients in large bowl; whisk or sift to distribute.
    In a separate bowl, mix sugar with orange zest, rubbing the zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrance is released.
    Add sugar-orange to other dry ingredients and mix.
    In another bowl, combine liquid ingredients; add to dry flour mixture.
    Mix until just combined.

    Add zucchini and walnuts, fold in just until mixed in, and pour into prepared pans.
    Bake at 325 for one hour.

    ** I make my own: 4 c all-purpose + 2 1/4 cup cake flours = 6 1/4 cup pastry flour)--good for low-fat baking.


    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

    You would never know that these moist, chocolaty cupcake bites are so low in fat--no butter or oils! The secret? Pureed dates. I love these! Dutch-process cocoa and bittersweet chocolate give them an intense flavor and you don't even realize you're missing out on butter. The dates are boiled and pureed in the food processor. The entire recipe is made in the food processor, and is a snap to make. They're lovely topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a strawberry! Enjoy! Continue for Mini Chocolate Cupcakes recipe.

    Mini Chocolate Cupcakes
    Gourmet, August 2003

    Makes 12 mini cupcakes (double recipe to make 24)

    1/3 cup water
    1/3 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped
    1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
    1 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
    3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
    1 large egg
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon confectioners sugar for dusting

    1. Special equipment: a mini-muffin pan with 12 (1/8-cup) muffin cups, preferably nonstick

    2. Preheat oven to 325°F.

    3. Bring water and dates just to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then transfer mixture to a food processor and add cocoa powder and chocolate, pulsing once to combine.

    4. Let cool 2 minutes, then add brown sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and a pinch of salt, then purée until smooth. Add flour and pulse just until incorporated.

    5. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. (If pan is not nonstick, line sprayed bottoms with rounds of wax paper, then spray paper.)

    6. Spoon batter into cups, dividing it evenly, and bake in middle of oven until a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes.

    7. Cool cupcakes in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack (remove wax paper, if using) and cool completely, right side up. Just before serving, sprinkle tops lightly with confectioners sugar.

    Serving size: 3 cupcakes
    177 calories and 4 grams fat.


    An Indian Meal: Beigan Bharta, Spiced Cauliflower, and Laila's Spiced Fresh Beans

    I really enjoy Indian food. Houston has some great restaurants but it's fun to cook some of my favorites at home. My wonderful friend Laila has really spoiled me--she always brings new dishes for me to try or has me over for chai and snacks. She also shares her recipes with me. Thanks Laila! Yum!

    Perusing various blogs, I found a great monthly blog event, Think Spice. This month, mustard seeds have the spotlight. Naturally, I thought of Indian cuisine and decided to make two of Laila's dishes, spiced cauliflower and beans, that are spiced with brown mustard seeds. I love the "pop" that they make in a hot pan. :) Both of these dishes are really nice. In addition to mustard seeds, the cauliflower is spiced with cumin, tumeric, coriander, and kitchen king masala powder--giving it a nice heat. This recipe is also great with potatoes and peas.

    I love these spiced beans with freshly shelled black-eyed peas that are available for a large portion of the year here in Houston. Laila brought back a special spice blend from India that she has ground when she is back home. It has over 20 different ingredients (I'll try to get a list from her--or at least a sampling of the key spices). And it is good! It's not very hot, but has a very nice flavor. As with the cauliflower, brown mustard seeds and cumin are toasted in a hot pan to start off the recipe. Pop!

    Beigan Bharta does not have mustard seeds but I absolutely love eggplant and this is probably one of my top favorite Indian dishes. And so I had to make it to go along with the other dishes! This recipe is great--easy to make, and so flavorful, and the perfect amount of heat. My mouth is watering! Continue for Beigan Bharta, Indian- Spiced Cauliflower, and Laila's Spiced Beans recipes.

    Beigan Bharta

    2 large eggplants
    2 small green chilis (thai/asian), very finely minced (I used 1/2 of a serrano today)

    1/2 onion, very finely diced or pulsed in food processor
    2 garlic cloves, very finely minced or processed to paste (can use 1t garlic paste)
    1 teaspoon ginger paste (approx. 1/2 inch grated ginger if using fresh)
    1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
    1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (don't use a mix--straight chili powder, cayenne is ok)
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 roma tomatos, pureed in processor/blender or finely diced
    2 tablespoons half and half (or any cream/milk)

    2 tablespoons cilantro
    1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground coriander seed
    1/2 lime, juice

    1. Bake eggplant until soft: Drizzle with EVOO and place cut side down on baking sheet and bake until tender--scoop out flesh and reserve. OR if you don't mind the skins, cut eggplants in slices, drizzle with oil, bake, and use entire eggplant.
    2. Heat several tablespoons oil in saute pan.

    3. Add green chilis, onion paste, garlic paste, and ginger paste. Cook over medium hi, constantly stirring. (I like to put my onion, garlic, ginger, and chilis in my mini-chop and puree them together, then add to saute pan).
    4. Add cumin, red chili powder, and salt.
    5. Cook until onion is very soft, adding several tablespoons of water to pan to prevent charring and add steam.
    6. Add tomatoes and half and half.

    7. Add eggplant and cilantro and coriander.
    8. Mash eggplant as it cooks--don't add water.

    9. Cover and simmer.
    10. After finished cooking, squeeze juice from 1/2 a lime over and stir.

    Indian-spiced Cauliflower (or potatoes or peas)

    1 head cauliflower (3-4 cups)
    1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seed
    1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
    1/4 onion, diced very finely (or pureed)
    1 tablespoon tomato paste, heaping tablespoon
    1 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon tumeric
    1 teaspoon coriander
    1 teaspoon kitchen king masala powder (heaping teaspoon)
    2 tablespoons cilantro

    1. Heat oil in pan on high.
    2. Add mustard and cumin seeds; toast.
    3. Add onion and brown, stirring constantly until soft.
    4. Turn heat to low. Add tomato paste; stir.
    5. Add salt, tumeric, coriander, masala powder; stir. Add a bit of water to make a paste.
    6. Add cauliflower (or potato) and mix.
    7. Add cilantro.

    8. Add several tablespoons water; cover and cook on low until soft.

    Laila's Spiced Fresh black-eyed Peas or Beans (very small red beans)

    1 pound fresh black-eyed peas (about 2 cups)

    1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
    1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
    1/2 small onion, very finely chopped or processed into paste
    1/4 teaspoon tumeric
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne, red chili powder (or to taste)
    1 teaspoon Laila's spice mix (very generous teaspoon)
    1 teaspoon sugar

    2 Tablespoons flaked, unsweetened coconut blended in blender --optional (I like it without)
    salt, to taste

    1. Warm 2-3 tablespoons oil in saute pan. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Cook until they "pop" over medium high.
    2. Add onion and brown well.
    3. Add beans; stir; add spices. Saute.

    4. Add enough water to cook beans (approx. 1 cup) and barely cover, or a bit more. Cover pan with a plate and add water to top of the plate.
    5. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are done, 45 min. to 1 hour. (The longer the better--let's the spices meld)
    6. Serve with rice.


    Lemon Puff Pancake

    What a nice breakfast treat! I have had this recipe from King Arthur Flour stashed away for a while and decided to try it this morning. It was so light and delicious--part pancake, part crepe, part popover. And so simple! A batter of eggs, milk, flour, and lemon and vanilla extracts were baked in a buttered skillet and then topped with a spritz of lemon juice and powdered sugar. No standing over a hot griddle or flipping pancakes--I like it!

    I was rather surprised when I took this large puff out of the oven when it was finished cooking. The batter had puffed up the sides of the skillet and in the middle. It was funny looking, but tasty! It was great topped with strawberries and without also. I loved the lemon juice. My husband took half of it and ate it like it was pizza. :) Continue for Puff Pancake recipe.

    Lemon Puff Pancake with Berries
    King Arthur's Baker's Catalouge

    3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter, melted
    1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    small pinch of nutmeg
    1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) granulated sugar
    1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/8 teaspoon lemon oil, optional
    2 large eggs
    2 tablespoons (1 ounce) freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a juicy lemon)
    2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) confectioners’ sugar

    Preheat the oven to 425°F.

    Pour the melted butter into a 12" skillet with ovenproof handle, or a 10" square pan. Yes, the size of the pan matters. Too small, it’ll overflow. Too large, it won’t puff as high. Try to find a pan or ovenproof skillet whose square-inch cooking surface is about 100 square inches.

    Whisk together the flour, salt, nutmeg, sugar, milk, vanilla, lemon oil, and eggs till fairly smooth.

    Pour the batter into the pan. Bake the pancake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until it’s very puffy and golden, with deeper brown patches. Remove it from the oven, and sprinkle with the lemon juice, then the sugar. Cut in squares, and serve immediately, garnished with fresh berries, if desired.

    Yield: 4 generous servings.


    Black Beans and Rice

    Beans and rice is a staple in our home. There are so many variations and bean/vegetable combinations that it never gets tiring. And so economical and healthy! Tonight I made my standard black beans, seasoned only with onions, garlic, peppers, salt, and tomatoes. Such basic ingredients yet so flavorful! Sometimes simple is really nice.

    For my rice, I usually toast a bit of garlic and rice in a saucepan until fragrant, before adding water to cook. Today I added green onions also. This really enhances the flavor of the rice and the garlic is great with the beans. I love garlic! I really like these beans with smoked sausage also but opted for no meat tonight. Continue for Basic Beans recipe.

    Basic Black Beans

    1/2 onion, finely chopped
    about 3 cloves minced garlic
    1 green pepper, chopped (I used 2 mild hatch chilis tonight; red is also good)
    1 can diced tomatoes
    2 cans black beans**

    Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
    Add the onion and cook several minutes.
    Add garlic and pepper and cook until soft.
    Add tomatoes, salt, and beans.
    Cover and simmer until heated.

    **Often, I use dried beans: Soak overnight with a bay leaf. Cook with water (and sometimes I like sausage) in a large stock pot or all day in the crockpot. Saute vegetables and add to beans along with the tomaotes after they haved finished cooking. Simmer about 15-30 minutes to combine flavors.


    Wednesday, September 5, 2007

    Plum Clafouti

    I just love clafoutis! And there is nothing simpler to bake! This light, eggy dish is traditionally made with cherries but a variety of fruits are excellent as well. Peaches and nectarines are nice. My first experience was with plums, so I always think of this treat when plums are in season. The sliced fruit is layered on the bottom of your pan, sprinkled with brown sugar, and then drowned with an egg, millk, and flour mixture. The fruit rises to the top while baking, making a beautiful finish! The fruit really shines, so it's important that whatever you choose to use is ripe and flavorful. This makes a nice dessert but we like it for breakfast, slightly warmed with a large cup of coffee.

    I just saw a savory clafouti on the gorgeous blog La Tartine Gourmande that I must try. It's a zucchini, corn, and goat cheese clafouti. Delicious!!! Beatrice Peltre published this in the Boston Globe and the recipe can be found here. Her photography and food styling is amazing--it's a great blog to check out. Continue for Plum Clafouti recipe.

    Plum Clafouti
    King Arthur Flour's The Baker's Companion

    3 cups sliced plums (or other fruit)
    1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/2 t salt
    3 eggs
    1 1/4 cups milk
    3/4 t vanilla extract (or almond, or 1/2 t each)

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    Thoroughly butter a 10-inch round pan or skillet.
    Arrange the sliced plums on the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar. (Fruit will form a double layer--there will be more fruit than a single layer.)
    In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
    In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat until thoroughly combined, then gradually whisk into the flour mixture, smoothing out the lumps.
    Pour the batter over the fruit in the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
    Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Serving size: 1 slice (8 servings)
    168 calories, 2g fat