Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beer Bread with Green Chiles, Cumin, and Cheese

More chiles! I needed something to go with my stew and decided to make a quick beer bread. These loaves are nice because they take about 2 minutes to mix up and only 45 min. to bake. So you can get home from work and fill the house with the smell of bread within one hour! I added cumin, roasted green chiles, and a Mexican cheese blend to this batch and it turned out deliciously. It really complemented the stew. But you can use any flavors that you want. It's not the most beautiful bread, it's scraggly, but nice, easy, and tasty! Continue for Beer Bread recipe.

Basic Beer Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour ***
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1 T baking powder
12 ounces beer
Optional seasonings (For this loaf, I used 1 large t cumin, 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese, and 4 chopped green chiles)

***(I used self-rising flour this time, omitting the salt and baking powder)

Top with either an egg wash (1 egg + 2 t water + tiny pinch of salt) before baking, or 2 T melted butter immediately out of the oven.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine all dry ingredients.
Stir in the beer and mix until just combined. (Batter will be thick but add a tad of water if it is very dry--might need to if substituting whole wheat).
Pour into 9 x 5 loaf pan.
Brush with egg wash if using.
Bake for about 45 min.
Remove from oven and brush with butter, if you haven't used the egg wash.

This loaf is so versatile: use part whole wheat, add oats, add any dried or fresh herb, green onions, chives, cheeses, dill, Italian, parmesan cheese, basil, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic, tomato sauce, black pepper......


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Green Chile Beef Stew

Hatch green chiles are here! These New Mexican chiles cause quite a stir at our local grocery stores when they're in season. They're only at our Houston stores several weeks and so it's a good time to stock up. It's nice to use fresh chiles instead of canned. They have a very nice flavor and are perfect for enchiladas, stews, beans, fajitas, cornbread, salsa, cheese bread...well, they're just great chiles. I usually buy the mild variety and buy them freshly roasted. Yum! This makes them so easy to use. And the roasted chiles can be frozen for use throughout the year. Today I made a simple stew using the chiles, beef, and potatoes. Continue for Green Chile Beef Stew recipe.

Green Chile Beef Stew

1 1/2 lb. lean stew meat, cut into cubes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
6 cups water
4 cloves minced garlic
8-10 roasted, peeled, and diced New Mexico green chiles (such as Hatch)
1 1/2 large Russet potatoes (or potato of your choice), cubed
1/4 t cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Crockpot Method:
Coat meat with flour; sprinkle generously with salt and a bit of pepper.
Add all ingredients to crockpot and cook on high 8-10 hours or until potatoes are tender.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart: Daring Bakers Challenge

My first Daring Baker's Challenge!! How exciting! This month's challenge was hosted by Veronica of Veronica's Test Kitchen and Patricia of Techicolor Kitchen. Thanks! I'm always excited to make a tart of any kind!

This recipe, from Eric Kayser's Sweet and Savory Tarts, started with a hazelnut shortbread crust. This was fairly straightforward, although my dough was very sticky and I had to piece together the edges of the crust. It was blind baked before adding the filling.

The caramel layer turned out beautifully--the best part of this tart in my opinion. The original recipe said to dry melt the sugar but I chose to add a little water and corn syrup. The trick with caramel is to just let it sit and boil without any stirring until it is a deep amber color. The richer the color, the richer the flavor.

After adding the cream and butter, it was so smooth and yummy looking! You can see my reflection on the surface when I took a photo. :) The caramel was then poured into the baked crust and baked until set. It kind of looked like a pumpkin pie.

After cooling, it was topped with a chocolate whipped cream and chilled. This challenge was fairly uncomplicated--a good one for my first! I thought that the tart was ok, but the balance was off. The chocolate mouse was a little overpowering and I didn't care much for the crust. But I liked the caramel layer. Yum--like a candy bar. It's fun being part of a group of food bloggers to share ideas and see others comments. There are some great pictures from this challenge--check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to see them. Continue for Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart recipe.

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
adapted from Eric Kayser’s Sweet and Savory tarts

Chocolate Shortbread Pastry

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Refrigeration: overnight
To make 3 tarts, 9 ½ inches (24 cm) squareor 10 inches (26 cm round)

1 cup (250g ) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 g) confectioners’ sugar
½ cup (50 g) ground hazelnuts
2 level teaspoons (5 g) ground cinnamon (I omitted this)
2 eggs
4 ½ cups (400 g) cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
1 ½ tablespoons (10 g) cocoa powder

One day ahead:
1. In a mixing bowl of a food processor, cream the butter. (Next time I'll try my stand mixer.)
2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the ground hazelnuts, and the cinnamon (if using), and mix together.
3. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing constantly.
4. Sift in the flour, the baking powder, and the cocoa powder, and mix well.
5. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, form a disc with the dough, and cover in plastic wrap. (Dough was fairly sticky).
6. Chill overnight. (I froze 2 of my crusts at this point.)

The next day:
1. Remove one piece of dough from fridge and let sit about 15 min. (You can begin making caramel filling.)
2. Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).
3. Put dough on a piece of parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with flour, and roll out to fit 10 inch tart pan. (My dough was very sticky and I ended up pressing it out rather than rolling it.)
4. Over turn dough into tart pan, piecing together if dough rips.
5. Cover bottom of tart with a piece of parchment then top with dried beans to weigh it down. (After baking, my parchment stuck a bit to the tart--I'll leave this out next time.)
6. Put crust in freezer for about 15 min.
7. Place crust on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 min.

Caramel Filling
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 T light corn syrup
1 cup (250 g) heavy cream, slightly warmed
1/4 cup (50 g) butter, cut into pieces
2 whole eggs, room temp.
1 egg yolk, room temp.
2 ½ tablespoons (15 g) flour

1. Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan and stir to combine.
2. Place over medium high heat--DO NOT STIR. Mixture will come to a boil--DO NOT STIR.
3. Let caramel become a nice dark amber color--don't rush this. The caramel will have more flavor as the color intensifies.
4. When desired color is attained, remove from heat.
5. Add warmed heavy cream (place briefly in microwave to warm cream a bit first), whisking constantly. Be careful--the mixture will bubble vigorously when you add the cream.
6. When the mixture is smooth, stir in the butter.
7. Set aside to cool.
8. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolk. Add a little of the flour and whisk. Add remaining flour and whisk until smooth.
9. When caramel has cooled to warm, add flour mixture and whisk until combined.
10. Pour into baked tart crust and bake for 15 min at 325. (I baked mine for 35min.--my caramel was still very giggly after 15min.)
11. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Milk Chocolate Mouse
1 1/4 cups (300 g) whipping cream
1/2 lb (250 g) milk chocolate

1. Beat the whipping cream until stiff.
2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave.
3. Gently fold chocolate into the cream.
4. Spread over the cooled caramel mixture, smoothing it with a spatula.
5. Chill for one hour before serving.

Caramel Fragments
1/2 cup sugar
2 T water
1/2 T light corn syrup

1. Combine in small saucepan.
2. Place over medium high heat and let it sit and boil--without stirring--until it reached an amber color.
3. Pour it onto waxed paper set on a baking sheet.
4. Allow to cool. Break into small fragments and use to decorate the top of the tart. (***I poured my caramel onto wax paper directly on the counter and it's stuck to the counter!! Ahhh!! I'll have to figure out a way to melt it off. :)


Banana Bundt Cake

I am constantly looking for new recipes that use bananas, as I usually have several ripe ones sitting on my counter begging to be used. I know ripe bananas can be frozen and used later, but it seems like I always have a lot of them and I hate to throw them out. So this week I tried this low-fat breakfast cake from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. I stumbled upon this great cookbook on the sale rack of the tea room for only $6! What a fun find! It really has a lot of healthful, vegetarian dishes that look delicious.

This snack cake is lightly flavored with nutmeg and cardamom and is only slightly sweet. At first I found it a bit on the bland side, but after eating several pieces, I really enjoyed it. It is very nice for breakfast, to have a slice with coffee on the way to work. I appreciate that it isn't very sugary and the spices give it a nice subtle flavor that is different than my typically cinnamon-spiced banana breads. I like the sturdy but smooth texture of the cake. If you're wanting something sweeter, the cookbook recommends a mocha glaze which sounds wonderful. Continue for Banana Bundt Cake recipe.

Banana Bundt Cake
Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

Makes one 10-inch Bundt cake

2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, preferably pastry flour**
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cardamom
3/4 cup brown sugar (if you want it sweeter, use up to 1 cup)
2 egg yolks
1 cup lightly mashed bananas (3)
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1 t vanilla (I would use 1 1/2)
4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray.
Sift the flour with the baking powder, slat, and spices. Add the sugar, mix well, and set aside.
Combine the yolks, bananas, applesauce, oil, and vanilla and mix well, Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until evenly blended.
Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter and pour into pan.
Bake for 60 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Cool on a rack for 10 min. Invert onto a plate.

If you want a sweeter cake, try glazing with Moosewood's Mocha Glaze:
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
6 T brewed strong coffee
2 T cocoa
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Combine chocolate and coffee in a saucepan and heat until melted. Combine a small amount of the melted chocolate with the cocoa to make a paste. Stir the paste into the remaining chocolate. Beat in the sugar and drizzle over cake.

** 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.

Serves 16
140 calories, 5.8g fat per serving


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts

This is my first browniebabe entry! How fun! Myriam, from the beautiful blog Once Upon a Tart, hosts this brownie roundup and presents the winner with a cute apron. What a great idea! I wanted to come up with something unique and tasty but I kept coming back to the classic peanut butter and chocolate. You just can't beat that simply fabulous combination. I knew I wanted to do a peanut butter frosting and I found this recipe while searching around on epicurious. And it's a Dorie Greenspan recipe! How appropriate!

The fudgy brownie layer is studded with salted peanuts, topped with a layer of rich peanut butter, and finished with a shiny chocolate ganache. The finished brownie looks amazing and is so easy to make. It will be a great recipe to make for a gathering--it's very rich and can be cut into bite-sized squares, making quite a lot. Yum! I love this blog contest and can't wait for the next one! Continue for Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies recipe.

Bon Appétit
January 2007
Dorie Greenspan

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Frosting and ganache

1 cup chunky peanut butter (do not use natural or old-fashioned)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used a dash of cinnamon instead)
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For brownies:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving long overhang; butter foil.

Place 3/4 cup butter in heavy large saucepan. Add both chocolates; stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt, then eggs, 1 at a time. Fold in flour, then nuts. Spread in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; cool.

For frosting and ganache:

Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter in medium bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg, then milk and vanilla. Spread frosting over brownies.

Stir chocolate and 1/4 cup butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Drop ganache all over frosting; spread to cover. Chill until set, about 1 1/2 hours. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Using foil as aid, transfer brownie cake to work surface; cut into squares. Bring to room temperature; serve.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cinnamon Walnut Raisin Bread

More swirls! For my parent's anniversary, I made a breakfast tray and included this cinnamon raisin swirl bread with honey cream cheese. Yum! I've heard a lot about Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, but this was my first recipe. Lovely! It's a very nice loaf with great texture and packed full of raisins and walnuts. It has a subtle hint of sweetness and cinnamon but not overwhelming. This is a great loaf to give to a neighbor or take to a brunch!

I used golden raisins that I plumped in hot water and they were delicious. The cinnamon swirl is optional but I think is a must--adding a bit more sweetness, flavor, and beauty. I also dusted the top with cinnamon and sugar, as suggested, right out of the oven, giving the loaves a sweet crust. It's made entirely with bread flour--next time I'm going to try all-purpose or a mixture--it was a little chewy. But a wonderful first recipe from this tasty book! Continue for recipe.

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread
by Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Makes two 1 1/2-pound loaves

3 1/2 cups (16oz) unbleached bread flour
4 t sugar
1 1/4 t salt
2 t instant yeast
1 1/4 t cinnamon
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 T shortening, melted or at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, room temp.
3/4 cup water, room temperature
1 1/2 cups raisins, rinsed and drained (**I plump my raisins in hot water--then use this water

in the recipe.)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Add the egg, shortening, buttermilk, and water. Stir together with a large spoon (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients come together and form a ball. Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff.

2. Sprinkle flour on a counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed, switching to the dough hook). The dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. Add flour as you knead (or mix), if necessary, to achieve this texture. Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 to 8 minutes). Sprinkle in the raisins and walnuts during the final 2 minutes of kneading (or mixing) to distribute them evenly and to avoid crushing them too much. (If you are mixing by machine, you may have to finish kneading by hand to distribute the raisins and walnuts evenly.) The dough should register 77° to 81°F (25 to 27°C). Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

4. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into loaves. Place each loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch pan, mist the tops with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

5. Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lips of the pans and is nearly doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Place the loaf pans on a sheet pan, making sure they are not touching each other.

7. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished breads should register 190°F (85°C) in the center and be golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides and bottom. They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

8. Immediately remove the breads from their pans and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

An alternative to the method described here is to add a cinnamon swirl. To make cinnamon sugar, stir together 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon. When shaping the dough, roll out each piece with a rolling pin to a rectangle 5 inches wide by 8 inches long and approximately 1/3 inch thick. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the surface of the rectangles and then roll up the dough into a tight sandwich-style loaf, pinching the seam closed with your fingers. When you slice the baked bread, there will be a cinnamon swirl that not only looks pretty but will also add additional cinnamon-sugar flavor.

Another trick that adds flavor is to brush the tops of the baked loaves with melted butter as soon as they come out of the bread pans, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar. When the bread cools, the top will have an additional sweet and crunchy flavor burst.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Semolina Rolls with Pizza and Ham and Swiss Filling

I love these homemade hotpockets! They're great to send for lunches for the week. I usually make several fillings so we don't get tired of having the same thing everyday. This recipe comes from King Arthur's Baker's Catalouge. I really like the semolina flour. It's just a bit different than my pizza dough recipe but similiar. I love the way the cheese oozes out of the rolls while baking, leaving a crispy cheese crust.

For this batch, I made a pizza filling (sauce, Italian cheeses, and pepperoni) and a ham and swiss roll with a sweet garlic mustard that I brought back from Peju Winery in Napa. But you can fill them with anything. I think a spicy chicken and peppers mixture would be great--next time! My only suggestion would be to make them smaller. They are really too big for me. Maybe make 10-12 instead of the 8 that the recipe specifies. Continue for recipe.

Semolina Rolls with Pizza Filling
King Arthur

Packing school lunches calls for organization. Our filled rolls are perfect; they're filling and satisfying. They can be made in advance and they don't need to be heated. We give you our basic recipe for semolina bread. You can also use your own white, wheat or rye bread recipe. The pizza filling is a hit with all generations.

1 teaspoon sugar or honey
2 cups room temperature water
1 tablespoon granulated yeast
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 cups semolina flour

Dissolve the sugar or honey in the water and add the yeast and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Let it sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going.
Add the salt and the semolina flour, then the remainder of the all-purpose flour, a half cup at a time, until the dough has formed a shaggy mass.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough has formed a smooth and satiny ball.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size. Punch the dough down.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces (or 10-12). Roll each piece into a rectangle 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. If the dough is being recalcitrant and it is contracting, it is telling you that it needs a little rest. If you let the dough sit for a few minutes, you will find that it is much more cooperative.
Place filling on the dough and leave a border of at least 1/2 inch. (Liquid fillings like spaghetti sauce or mustard need to be used in scant amounts so that they don't boil out of the rolls.)
Roll up lengthwise.
Brush the edges with the egg wash and pinch to seal shut. Pinch the ends shut and fold them underneath the roll.
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Beat the egg and the water together. Add the salt and beat.

Let the rolls rest and rise until they are swollen, 30 to 45 minutes; don't let them double in size. Preheat the oven to 375°F while the rolls are rising. Brush the rolls with the remaining egg wash.
Slash the rolls diagonally about 1/2-inch deep. Keep the slashes on the top of the rolls so that the cheese doesn't ooze out during baking.
Bake the rolls for 25 to 35 minutes. When the rolls are done, they will be browned and should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Let cool before eating. The melted cheese is hot!

Some Other Favorite Fillings: tuna fish salad and cheddar cheese; ham and Swiss and Dijon mustard; turkey and provolone and honey mustard; Reuben: pastrami, Swiss, Russian dressing*, and mustard; and corned beef and Swiss. *Mayonnaise tends to ooze; make your tuna salad a bit dry.

Nutrition information per serving, semolina bread alone (1/8 of recipe -- 1 roll, 149 g): 280 cal, 1 g fat, 9 g protein, 59 g complex carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 2 g dietary fiber, 802 mg sodium, 114 mg potassium, 3 mg iron, 144 mg calcium, 81 mg phosphorus. Nutrition information per serving, semolina bread with pizza filling (1/8 of recipe -- 1 roll, 228 g): 519 cal, 20 g fat, 22 g protein, 62 g complex carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 82 mg cholesterol, 1653 mg sodium, 268 mg potassium, 1 mg vitamin C, 4 mg iron, 303 mg calcium, 237 mg phosphorus.

This recipe reprinted from King Arthur Flour's Baking Sheet, Vol. III, No. 8, Sept.-Oct., 1992


Chicken and Broccoli Stirfry

One of the things on my growing list of "Must Learn" is to master several great new stirfry sauces. Stirfries are so easy, fresh, and healthful. And a great and quick way to use veggies that need to be used. I have one sauce that I really like that I got years ago from Cooking Light but I need to branch out. So I tried this Spicy Schezuan sauce from Pam Anderson's The Perfect Recipe. It was ok--but not very spicy and too much sesame oil, in my opinion. So, the search continues! Any great suggestions?


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Korova Sables

Chocolate!! I just finished a cinnamon latte and two of these melt-in-your-mouth cookies for a Sunday afternoon treat. Yummm! These buttery sables are intensely chocolaty with a hint of salt--the perfect combination. As you can tell from previous posts, I am a huge Dorie Greenspan fan. Her recipes consistently are wonderful and are very easy to follow and reproduce. This was my first recipe from her Paris Sweets cookbook--delicious and so simple! The dough for these cookies is rolled into a log, refrigerated, sliced, and baked, making them a great candidate for holiday baskets. I love sweets that I can make ahead and keep in the freezer or refrigerator to pop in the oven when I'm ready for them. These are going on my list for Christmas cookies! Continue for recipe.

Korova Sables
Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City's Best Pastry Shops
Dorie Greenspan (adapted from Pierre Herme)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 stick + 3 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 t fine sea salt (or 1/2 t fleur de sel)
1 t vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits (I used 1 3.5 oz. bar and it was great--in a pinch, use chocolate chips.)

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together. Set aside.
With your paddle attachment (or by hand), beat butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla and beat for another minute.
Add dry ingredients and mix only until incorporated. The dough will be crumbly. You want to mix the dough as little as possible for the best texture.
Add the chocolate pieces and mix.
Turn the dough out onto the counter and squeeze it so that it sticks together in large clumps. Divide the dough in half and shape into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. (They can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
With a sharp knife, slice the logs into 1/2 inch thick rounds and place on the cookie sheet, leaving 1 inch in between cookies.
Baking only one sheet at a time, bake for 12 min. The cookies will not look or feel done, but that is how they're supposed to be.
Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and cool until warm.

Yield: 36 cookies

**If using frozen dough, you don't need to defrost it before baking--just slice the logs and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.
**Try adding toasted pecans, craisins, and/or a pinch of cinnamon for a different twist.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is my favorite soup recipe and one that I make frequently. Somehow tortilla soup sounds good even in the blistering heat of August. And the house smells so good when it's on the stove. This recipe comes from The Common Grill Cookbook, a very nice collection of dishes by Craig Common. His herbed pizza dough is one of my favorites and he has a lovely chicken, sweet potato, and corn chowder. This tortilla soup starts with a mirepoix (saute of onions, carrots, and celery) for a great flavor base and then combines red, yellow, poblano, black and crushed red peppers for a nice heat. Continue for recipe.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
adapted from The Common Grill Cookbook

1 small onion (red or white--use 1/2 of a large onion), finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb. carrots, finely diced
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
1/2 large red pepper, diced
1/2 large yellow pepper, diced (or red if you don't have a yellow)
1 Poblano pepper, finely diced
1/2 t oregano (2 pinches)
1 t cumin
1 T kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 28 oz. can Italian-style plum tomatoes (or 2 smaller cans), chopped, diced, or left in large chunks
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup water (or a bit more if you want a little more broth)
1 lb. chicken, cooked and diced

6 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips, pan fried to top soup (or tortilla chips)

Heat olive oil in a soup pot. Add onion and cook until translucent, approx. 5 min.
Add garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Arit in carrots and celery and cook until carrots are soft, about 6-8 min.
Thoroughly mix in peppers, oregano, cumin, slat, black and red pepper flakes.
Stir in tomatoes, broth, and water and simmer for 30 min.
Add diced chicken and continue cooking for an additional 30 min. (The longer this soup sits, the better the flavor).
Top with tortilla strips.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

French Yogurt Cake with Lemon

If I never make another cake in my life, that's fine. This is it. My cake. One I hopefully will make again and again--varying the flavors, adding berries, nuts. I honestly can't wait to bake it again. Just right. There really is not very much to it--not very sweet and simple. This yogurt cake is tender and moist. It's rich but much lighter than a pound cake. It's perfectly infused with lemon flavor--great with berries, whipped cream, or on its own. I had a slice for breakfast, but I would enjoy this cake for dessert, tea, or anytime.

I read about this cake on several blogs and knew that I had to try it--almost anything with yogurt appeals to me. This is a very common cake in France and the measuring is done in French yogurt cups (about 1/2 cup). Sweet! It is very simple--no mixer involved. It's finished with a lemon syrup that gives the top a nice glaze of flavor and sweetness.

My version is a combination of a recipe from Orangette (a truly delicious blog) and a recipe in Greenspan's Baking (yet another winner!). They both offer tempting variations that I'll definitely be trying soon:

1. Layer as a strawberry shortcake--cut horizontally and spread with whipped cream, jam, and strawberries.
2. Almond: substitute 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup ground, blanched almonds.
3. Omit lemon, add vanilla or orange.
4. Add fresh or frozen fruit and/or nuts: Spread 2/3 batter in pan; top with berries; cover with remaining batter. (You don't have to thaw berries if frozen.)
5. Layer with lemon cream, curd, or jam and frost with sweetened whipped cream.
6. Top with chocolate sauce or chocolate mousse.
7. Try olive oil instead of canola.
8. Glaze with warmed and strained marmalade or apricot jam (with almond version) thinned with a teaspoon of water.
9. My variation: replace some of the flour with cocoa for a chocolate version.

And a new favorite yogurt! Straus yogurt was on sale at Whole Foods and I decided to try it. It has a very nice flavor and consistency--and no pectins added. This is what I used for my cake. Continue for recipe.

French Yogurt Cake with Lemon

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest (from 1-2 lemons)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 t vanilla (optional)
1/2 cup canola oil

For the glaze:
Juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9x2 round cake pan (or use a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan).
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla to the sugar and mix until well blended.
Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Add the oil, and stir until smooth.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan to cool completely.
When the cake is cooled, combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.