Saturday, January 30, 2010

January Daring Bakers: Nanaimo Bars

I'm a bit late this month, but I did manage to get January's challenge in before the start of February!  The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

I wasn't able to find the gluten free flours called for in Lauren's recipe for a reasonable price, so I used Martha Stewart's graham cracker recipe.  I've used it in the past, and it makes an extremely tasty, buttery, crispy graham cracker - yum!  It even uses real graham flour, which is a nice touch (and, happily, graham flour was super cheap at the store).  You can find the recipe for gluten free graham crackers and nanaimo bars at Lauren's site, and Martha's recipe is below.

I enjoyed the nanaimo bars, although they were a little too sweet even for my sweet tooth.  These are definitely best in small pieces, like a piece of candy rather than a bar cookie.  I was also really glad to make homemade graham crackers again - so yummy and so much better than store-bought!  I made s'mores with friends with some of them using our mini-blowtorch.  Yum!  Thanks to Lauren for an excellent challenge this month!

Graham Crackers (from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups graham flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 T honey

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and honey until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  With the mixer on low, add the flour and beat until just combined.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Cut into four equal pieces.  Roll each piece out between two pieces of parchment paper until about 1/8th-inch thick.  Stack the dough (still between parchment) on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer for about 20 minutes. 
3. Bake each sheet whole for about 15-18 minutes, until deep golden brown.  About 2 minutes before the cookies are ready to come out of the oven, pull them out and cut into rectangles with a pizza cutter, and then return to the oven. 
4.  Cool the cookies on a wire rack, and then break apart on the cut lines made earlier. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Williams and Sonoma Bouchon Pan and Mix

My dad got me a bouchon cake pan and mix from Williams and Sonoma for Christmas this year. I love the cake pan - it makes little cakes the size of mini-muffins but about twice as tall, and the silicone material makes them easy to pop out of the molds. I've used the pan both for the little chocolate cakes they're intended for, pictured above, and for muffins, and I think the desserts from it are cute and elegant. Somehow, they're just a little fancier than mini-muffins/mini-cupcakes would be!

The bouchon mix is for little chocolate cakes or "corks", from the famous Bouchon restaurant.  I haven't seen these at the Bouchon in Napa, but I'll have to look for them the next time I'm up there!  The cakes from the mix were very tasty, somewhere between a brownie and a dense chocolate cake, and definitely didn't taste like a typical mix.  Still, for the price and the amount of work (there are lots of separate packets -- basically the only labor-saving here is measuring the ingredients), I'll probably make these from scratch in the future.  There's a recipe on the back of the box from the cake pan, so I will definitely be trying that at some point and posting the results here!  Thanks to my dad for a delicious and fun present!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Presto Pasta Nights Round-Up

Presto Pasta Nights has always been one of my favorite online round-ups, so I'm pleased to present this week's set of delicious pasta dishes!  I was really impressed with the variety of tasty ways everyone used pasta this week.  Many thanks to original hostess Ruth of Once Upon a Feast for starting the group and helping me out as a first-time hostess.  If you missed the round-up this week, you can send your dish on to Chaya of Sweet & Savory Says It All, since she's hosting next week!  Send next week's pasta to chayathecomfycook (at) yahoo (dot) com and cc ruth (at) 4everykitchen (dot) com.

Little Inbox sends Stir-Fried Longevity Noodles with pork, egg, prawns, mushrooms, and chives.  I've never stir-fried noodles before, but it looks like an absolutely delicious technique!

PPN founder Ruth made this brilliantly-colored Roasted Vegetable Soup with Tortellini.  Yum!

This tasty Pasta with Shrimp and Clams in Fresh Tomato Sauce comes from Katie and looks like a great way to enjoy lots of seafood.

Nate sent in a recipe for Tom Yam Fried Beehoon, which looks absolutely fantastic - I love all the different ingredients added to the noodles!

Donna's Skillet Penne with Sausage and Spinach makes my mouth water!  Yum.

Kevin's recipe for Butternut Squash Carbonara combines two of my very favorite foods - butternut squash and bacon!

Dharm shares Spaghetti Primavera, which makes me long for spring!  He adds roasted garlic to the sauce to make it extra special.

Christine cooked up these Stir-fried rice noodles with vegetables.  A delicious way to get in those 5-a-day!

Chaya's Mac and Cheese cups look so tempting.  I love pasta and cheese!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Strawberry-Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

These strawberry-banana mini muffins are an excellent and fairly healthy breakfast treat.  I baked them in bouchon molds that my dad got me for Christmas (Thanks, Dad!), which I think makes the muffins look really cute and elegant!  They're around the same circumference as a mini-muffin, but about twice as tall.  We baked some of the batch in regular mini-muffin tins, which worked just as well if you don't happen to have the special molds. 

I love the combination of mashed bananas and strawberries here, as it's a little more special than regular banana cupcakes.  We came up with the idea because we ran out of bananas and my mom had some thawed frozen strawberries in the fridge.  You could probably use mashed fresh strawberries as well, although the thawed frozen ones are extra juicy.  Because these muffins are fairly low in fat, they don't keep quite as well as the sort of muffin with two sticks of butter.  :)  I'd suggest serving them warm from the oven, but they also reheat nicely in the toaster; I don't recommend serving them cold. 

Strawberry-Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins (adapted from, original recipe here)

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1-1/2 cups mashed fruit (2 medium bananas, mashed, plus enough frozen strawberries, thawed and mashed, to make 1-1/2 cups total)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a mini-muffin or bouchon pan with non-stick spray; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and chocolate chips.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly. Stir in brown sugar, oil, bananas, and strawberries. Blend well. Add the flour mixture and gently fold together until dry ingredients are moistened.
4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake about 15 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.  Leftovers should be heated in the toaster oven until warm before serving.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Buttermilk Asparagus Soup with Prosciutto

I've been making an effort to eat more fruits and veggies lately, and so when I saw this soup recipe I knew I had to give it a try.  It has fantastic flavor from the asparagus and tangy buttermilk, and the salty toppings pair perfectly with the smooth, mild soup. It's also super easy to prepare, so it makes a perfect lunch.  I paired the soup with a thick slice of banana bread.

Since I was just cooking for myself, I made about a one-third recipe and had plenty for lunch plus a little bit leftover.  The extra saved well in the fridge and I supplemented it with some roasted beets a few days later for another lunch.  (I don't recommend this - though it was fairly tasty, the red beets dyed the soup a terrible brownish color - but other roasted veggies would make a yummy addition sprinkled on top.)  To reheat, just set the soup over low heat until it just starts to simmer.

Also, be sure to check out the profile Life360 Blog just did on me.  Yay!

Buttermilk Asparagus Soup with Prosciutto (adapted from Simple Fresh Southern by Matt Lee and Ted Lee)
Serves 4

3 pounds asparagus, woody bottoms broken off
4 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 to 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into small strips

1. Cut the tips off the asparagus and reserve.  Cut the spears crosswise into pieces about 3/4 inch long.

2. Bring the broth and 1/4 tsp kosher salt to a simmer in a large pot, and add the onion and chopped asparagus, reserving 24 of the tops.  Simmer until tender, 10-12 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large skillet over high heat until it coats the pan.  Drain any additional oil.  Add the reserved asparagus tops, and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Cook, stirring every minute or so, until they are browned and beginning to crisp (time will depend on size of asparagus spears).  Remove from heat.

4. Transfer broth and veggies to a blender and puree until smooth.  Return to the pot and add the buttermilk.  Season generously with freshly ground black pepper, taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.  Heat soup to a simmer and serve immediately.  Top each bowl with the sauteed asparagus tops and a few strips of prosciutto.

I'm sending this recipe off to Blogger Secret Ingredient: Buttermilk.  This week, BSI is hosted by My Kitchen Adventures.  Can't wait to see the round-up!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Presto Pasta Nights and Orecchiette with Braised Greens and Purple Cauliflower served with Easiest Whole Wheat Biscuits

I have the honor of hosting Presto Pasta Nights this week!  This weekly round-up of pasta recipes was started by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast, and I've had a great time participating with some of my favorite pasta dishes in past weeks.  (In fact, if you need some ideas, I've linked to my past PPN entries at the bottom of this post.)  I hope you'll share your recent pasta creations with me this week.  I really look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with and trying some new pasta recipes!  If you'd like to join in the round-up this week, just email me a link to your post along with a photo of your dish.  You can email your entries to me at schatfield (at) berkeley (dot) edu and cc Ruth at ruth (at) 4everykitchen (dot) com.  Please also link back to this post and to Ruth so others can join the fun!

To whet your appetite, I'd like to share a yummy pasta dish with you.  It combines al dente orecchiette with lots of tasty, colorful veggies.  I used purple cauliflower, which makes for an impressive dish but doesn't save well - if you expect to have leftovers, I'd suggest white as the purple color bleeds into the pasta and turns everything a funny color if it's left in the fridge overnight!  The nutty flavor of the cauliflower pairs well with assertive greens like kale and mustard greens.  You could use any combination adding up to about a pound of your favorites.  I particularly like the little touches added into this recipe - currants, pine nuts, and anchovies.  All three of these add bursts of flavor and really make this pasta perfect. I served it with healthy whole wheat biscuits to round out the meal.

Orecchiette with Braised Greens and Purple Cauliflower (adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques via Serious Eats, original recipe here)
Serves 4

1/2 pound kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 pound mustard greens, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
A couple of generous pinches of red pepper flakes
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minched
1 head purple cauliflower, about 2 pounds, broken into bite-sized florets
1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
3 T pine nuts
2 T currants
1/2 cup panko, toasted

1. In a large heavy pot, heat half the olive oil over medium heat, then add half the red pepper flakes and the rosemary sprig. Allow them to sizzle in the oil for a minute and then add half the onion. As it softens, after about two minutes, add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the onion turns golden, then add the greens and stir to coat with the oil. Splash in 1/4 cup of water and cover tightly, turning the heat to low. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes, then remove the rosemary sprig. 10 minutes before cooking is through, add the currants to plump up.

2. In the meantime, heat the remaining oil in a second wide, heavy skillet over medium heat and add the remaining onion and red pepper flakes. When it begins to color, add the anchovy fillets, mashing them into the oil to melt. Increase the heat to high and add the cauliflower with a hefty pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, tossing and stirring often, until the cauliflower is richly caramelized and tender, but not mushy. Season to taste as necessary. When the cauliflower is near done, add the pine nuts to toast in the pan.

3. In the meantime, cook the orrecchiette in salty boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving a full cup of pasta cooking water. Combine all the ingredients into the largest pot, where you cooked either the kale or the cauliflower, and turn the heat to high. Allow the pasta to turn slightly golden and crisp, scraping it off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. After a couple minutes, add some reserved pasta water to create a silky sauce and season to taste. Serve in bowls with the panko breadcrumbs scattered over the top.

Easiest Whole Wheat Biscuits (adapted from The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook via Yasmeen Health Nut, original recipe here)

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 T of baking powder
1 tsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
2 T cold unsalted butter,cut in small pieces
1 T honey
3/4 cup low fat milk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Place the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, vital wheat gluten, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times to combine everything.  Add the butter and pulse until it is cut in and only pea-sized pieces of butter remain.

3. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and honey and whisk together.  Pour into the food processor and process until everything is just combined.  The dough should be slightly sticky.  [Alternately, you can whisk the dry ingredients together by hand, cut in the butter with a pastry blender, and stir in the milk and honey with a rubber spatula until just combined.]

4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold the dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Dough can be refrigerated at this point if needed.

5. Bake until lightly brown and risen to twice their unbaked height,12-14 minutes (a bit longer if chilled first). Serve warm.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Roasted Tomato-Goat Cheese Tart

My grandma and I made this fantastic tomato-goat cheese tart for my parents' anniversary dinner.  The tart is easy to put together and extremely delicious!  The acidity of the tomatoes goes perfectly with the rich goat cheese and the buttery puff pastry.  I'm sure this would be even better with homemade puff pastry, but it was amazing even with store-bought.  This is a great winter recipe because the roasting elevates winter tomatoes and makes them tasty and deeply flavored.  Some of the tomatoes/cheese stuck a bit to the pan, but they easily scraped off onto the top of the tart and it was none the worse for the wear.  Since this is a rich dish, I'd suggest serving it with a crisp green salad on the side.

Roasted Tomato-Goat Cheese Tart (adapted from Dinner with Julie, original recipe here)
Serves 4 as a light dinner

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive or canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces soft goat cheese, either plain, with herbs, or a combination
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange the cherry tomato halves in one layer in a 9x13 rectangular baking dish sprayed with oil.  Don't worry about crowding as the tomatoes will shrink as they roast, but do keep it to one layer - you may have a few extra tomatoes left over to toss in a salad.  Drizzle the tomatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 45 minutes.
2. Roll out the puff pastry to the size of your pan.  You may need to use one or two sheets, depending on the brand you're using.  Set aside.
3. Crumble the goat cheese over the roasted tomatoes and top with the puff pastry.
4. Bake 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden.  Let sit 10 minutes, and then invert onto a serving dish.  Cut into squares to serve.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

This apple-cranberry crisp recipe comes from my grandma, although I made it with my mom.  The tart cranberries really liven up the apples and make this a special treat.  I love crispy oat toppings like the one on this crisp...they're just so crunchy and tasty! This recipe is also easy to put together if you have the ingredients on hand. 

I'm back in Ohio visiting my parents for a few more days, and then I'll be back in California for the start of the semester.  Back in CA, I'm looking forward to taking a marmalade class at a local foods place, but I will miss cooking with my mom!

Apple Cranberry Crisp (recipe from Grandma Marg)
Makes 1 8-inch square crisp


3 cups unpeeled, chopped apples
2 cups raw cranberries
1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8-inch square baking dish with oil.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the apples, cranberries, and sugar until well combined. Place in the baking dish.
3. Whisk together the oats, brown sugar, flour, and walnuts. Add the butter and mix with your fingers until the topping is uniformly mixed and crumbly. Spread evenly over the fruit.
4. Bake for about 1 hour or until the fruit is fork tender. Serve warm.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hot Italian Sausage with Tomatoes and Kale

This stew-ish dinner of hot Italian sausages and greens couldn't be easier and it's absolutely delicious.  The sausages flavor the whole dish with their spicy flavor, so use milder sausages if you don't like heat.  My mom invented this dish, and I'll definitely be making it myself in the future.  Because of the heat, these sausages and greens are nice with a mild side dish like mashed potatoes.

Hot Italian Sausage with Tomatoes and Kale
Serves 2-4 (depending on how many sausages each person wants)

Olive oil
1 onion, minced
4 hot Italian sausages
1 can diced tomatoes
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and saute until softened.  Add the sausages and saute until browned.  Add the tomatoes and kale, and toss/stir frequently until the kale is wilted.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the kale is tender and the sausages are cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Chocolate-Espresso Cookies

I made these easy-but-delicious cookies for a holiday cookie exchange I had at my house in mid-December.  They are rich and festive, but would be excellent any time of definitely don't need to wait until next Christmas to make them!  The mocha flavor makes them a bit grown-up, and I under-baked them so they'd be extra fudgy and chewy.   I love the crackled pattern on top, which comes from pulling the cookies out of the oven when they're puffy and letting them fall as they cool.  I achieved better crackles on some cookie sheets, I think because it takes a bit of practice to pull these out of the oven at just the right moment.  Luckily, all the batches were equally delicious!

Chocolate-Espresso Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes 2 dozen

1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate melted
3-ounce bar of Scharffen-Berger Mocha chocolate (or another mocha or dark chocolate bar), coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in vanilla. Combine espresso powder and melted chocolate; beat into butter mixture. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate.

3. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 3 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until edges are dry and tops are just set, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through (cookies will still seem soft when you pull them out). Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will be puffy when you pull them out but will fall to create a dense center and a nice crackled pattern on top. (To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.)

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.