Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chocolate Peppermint Stick Marshmallow Fantasy Cake

Peabody recently posted a "Chocolate Peppermint Stick Marshmallow Fantasy Cake" on her blog, and I immediately knew I had to make it for Christmas dinner! It was amazing! The only change to it was that we couldn't find Andes Peppermint Crunch and so we used some generic brand "Peppermint Crunch" we found at a local store...but it seemed to turn out great anyway! One warning--eat this right away or leave it in the fridge or the icing will start to "melt"!

The cake was delicious, and the frosting was amazing too...I had never made a marshmallow frosting but it was very easy and gave a great result. The candles in the picture are for the baby Jesus. :) They were some great candles I picked up at the grocery store that actually burn in different colors!
The recipe is here.

Christmas Brioche

My mom and I made a delicious brioche for Christmas breakfast. Dorie Greenspan was right in the recipe--this was hard to make with no stand mixer! But we prevailed, 3 sticks of butter and all, and it was totally worth it on Christmas morning. Yum! This was the most delicious bread ever!

Brioche (From Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours)
Hand-made (no mixer) version!

2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 c just warm water
1/3 c just warm whole milk
3 1/4 c flour
2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 c sugar
3 sticks butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

Put the yeast, water, and milk in a bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until yeast is dissolved. Add flour and salt and incorporate (may need to use your hands). You should have a dry, shaggy mess.

Add the eggs and sugar, and mix until the dough forms a ball. You may need to turn the dough out onto the counter and mix with your hands to get this to happen (we did). Add the butter in 2 T size chunks, kneading it in each time. It will look/feel really gross, like this:

But keep at it! Once all the butter was in, we put it back in the bowl and kneaded/mixed it some more there. We never did get it to "pull away from the sides of the bowls" like Dorie described, but it didn't seem to matter in the end product. Knead/mix it together for about ten minutes.

Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40-60 minutes. Deflate the dough and recover. Put in the fridge (or a cold basement, in our case) and punch it down every 30 minutes until it stops rising. Leave to chill overnight.

In the morning, butter and flour 2 loaf pans. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. But each piece into 4 equal pieces and roll them into short logs. Lay them crosswise in the bottom of each pan (4 to each pan). Put on a baking sheet, cover with wax paper, and let rise 1-2 hours until the dough fills the pan.

Beat the egg with the water and brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze. Bake at 400 degrees until well rised and deeply golden, 30-35 minutes. Yum!

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

I'm also sending this post off to the Sweets for Santa Blog Hop - check out the other tasty treats at the Hungry Australian!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Cookies!

My mom baked all of these delicious Christmas cookies and my sister and I helped to decorate...yum! All the recipes are from Better Homes and Gardens Cookies for Christmas and they're the ones we make every year. The sugar cookies are the best sugar cookies ever. Merry Christmas to all!

Swirled Mint Cookies

2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c butter
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
red and green food coloring

1. Combine flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract and beat well. Add flour and beat in. Divide into thirds. Stir 10 drops red food coloring into one third, 10 drops green into another third, and leave the final third plain. Chill at least one hour.
2. Roll each third into long ropes 1/2 inch in diameter (may want to do this in batches). Place one role of each color side by side and wist together. Slice into 1/4 inch pieces and roll into balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Flatten to 1/4 inch thickness with the bottom of a glass dipped in additional sugar. Bake at 375 degrees, about 6-8 minutes. Remove and cool.

Rolled Sugar Cookies

2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 T butter
1/3 c Crisco
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1 T milk
1 tsp vanilla

1. Stir together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening until softened. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture and beat till well mixed. Chill at least 3 hours.
2. Roll dough out very thin. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.

Wishing Cookies (Ginger Stars)

3 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 c butter
1 1/2 c sugar
1 egg
2 T molasses
1 T water
1/2 tsp grated orange or lemon peel

1. Stir together dry ingredients. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter until softened. Add sugar and beat till fluffy. Add egg, molasses, water, and peel and beat well. Stir in flour mixture gradually Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
2. Roll dough 1/8 in thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 minutes.

Scandinavian Almond Bars

1 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter or margarine
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 /2 tsp almond extract
1/2 c sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
Almond Icing

1. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until softened. Beat in sugar till fluffy. Add egg and almond extract and beat well. Stir in flour mixture.
2. Divide into fourths. Form each into a 12 inch roll. Place two rolls 4-5 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each until 3 inches wide, and repeat with remaining rolls.
3. Brush flattened rolls with milk and sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-14 minutes (keep a close eye), or till edges are lightly browned. While still warm, cut croswise at a diagonal into 1 inch strips. Drizzle with almond icing.

Almond Icing: Stir together 1 c sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp almond extract, and enough milk (3-4 tsp) to make icing of drizzling cons

Mom and sister with decorated cookies...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Daring Bakers December Challenge!

I was extra excited to join the Daring Bakers group this month. The challenge was to make a Yule Log, and the baking part was lots of fun. I had never made a genoise cake before, but it all seemed to go pretty smoothly. The frosting was perfect--I don't think I've ever made such a smooth buttercream before! It was great to frost given the smooth buttercream and the texture of the cake (not too crumbly). I did have some troubles with rolling the cake...I tried the dishtowel approach that some people had mentioned, but my cake still cracked...oh well, it still looks nice when it's put together! My mushrooms didn't turn out quite right, I don't think, but they were still cute. I was very excited about it because everything looked perfect...but then came the taste test. :( Not my greatest culinary achievement. Not sure if I did something wrong or if it was just a preference thing, but neither my housemate nor I thought it was very good. The cake was really sweet and the texture seemed overly sponge-y. The frosting was pretty good when I tasted it before adding the coffee flavor, but I wasn't crazy about it afterward. Anyway, I was still glad to try out some new techniques, and I will definitely try this buttercream again with some different flavorings because I did love how it spread and I thought it tasted good plain.

Yule Log

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2. Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).

4. Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5. While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8. Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9. While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

10. Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

1. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2. Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

3. Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

Assembling the Yule Log:

1. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2. Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3. Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4. Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5. Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6. Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7. Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8. Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9. Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10. Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11. Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mini Pie Revolution!

These mini pies are a variation on the apple-quince crisp I made over Thanksgiving with my aunt (see below). They turned out fabulously, and they're so much fun! Feels like less work than a big pie, too! Check out the rest of the revolution at Headquarters.

Apple-Pear-Rum Raisin Mini Pies with Crumb Topping (whew!) (adapted from Bon Appetit)

1/2 c raisins
1/2 c dark rum
2 apples
2 pears
squirt lemon juice
1 T (or more) flour
pinch salt
1/2 c sugar

6 T butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt

1 recipe of your favorite pie crust

1. Simmer the raisins in the rum for a few minutes. Off the heat, light the rum on fire and burn off any remaining alcohol. Leave the liquid in the pan for now.
2. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer until butter is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.
3. Mix flour, sugar, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl. Add browned butter and 1 T liquid from rum raisins; stir until moist clumps form.
4. Drain the raisins of the rest of their liquid. Peel and cut the apples and pears into chunks. Toss with rum raisins, lemon juice, flour, sugar, and salt. If it seems very juicy, you may want to add more flour.
5. Roll out pie dough and cut into small rounds. Press into muffin tins (my method was to cut a quarter of the dough out of the circle first so that it all fit in right). Fill with the apple-pear-raisin mixture and crumble the topping over top.
6. Any remaining mixture/topping can be baked separately as a crisp.
7. Bake the mini pies on a baking sheet at 350 degrees until brown and crisp on top.
8. Yum!

Apple and Quince Crisp with Rum Raisins

I made this over Thanksgiving with my aunt, and am finally getting around to posting! The recipe had a lot of steps, so was one of those that is nice to make with someone else. It was extra delicious both as dessert and as breakfast (as pictured here with goat cheese-canadian bacon scrambled eggs). Although the quince adds a really interesting flavor, we thought this would be equally good with apple and pear.

Apple and Quince Crisp with Rum Raisins (from Bon Appetit/

Rum Raisins:
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup dark rum

Crisp Topping:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups water
3 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 pounds quinces (about 5 medium), peeled, quartered, cored
4 large Gala apples, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

For rum raisins:
Simmer raisins and rum in small saucepan 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Ignite with match; let flames burn out, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer 2 tablespoons liquid to small bowl for crisp topping.

For crisp topping:
Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer until butter is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Cool.

Mix flour, sugar, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl. Add browned butter and 2 tablespoons reserved liquid from rum raisins; stir until moist clumps form.

For filling:
Combine 4 cups water and 3 cups sugar in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add quinces; simmer until tender, 15 minutes. Remove from syrup; cool. Reserve syrup for another use. Cut quinces into 1-inch cubes. Transfer to large bowl.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add apples, lemon juice, flour, salt, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and rum raisin mixture to bowl with quinces; toss to blend. Transfer to baking dish. Crumble topping over.

Bake apple and quince crisp until golden and bubbling, about 55 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with softly whipped cream or ice cream.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Extravaganza!

I went to my aunt and uncle's house for Thanksgiving and I had a great time cooking Thanksgiving dinner with their family. I didn't manage to get photos of everything, but below are some of the tasty things on our table...

The turkey!

Delicious cranberry chutney (recipe below)

More cranberries! (recipe below)

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes

My cousin goes for the Brussels sprouts! (recipe below)

This photo doesn't do our desserts justice! Pumpkin pie made by my aunt and me, and pecan pie from our guest Joan.

Cranberry Chutney (from Gourmet)

5 shallots, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (12-oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cook shallots in the oil over medium-low heat until softened. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until cranberries have burst, 10-12 minutes.

Raw Cranberry Relish (slightly adapted from Simply Recipes)

2 cups raw cranberries
1 apple, peeled and cored
1 large orange, plus its peel
2 cups sugar

Pulse fruit in a food processor until chopped but not mushy. Stir in sugar.

Brussels Sprouts Hash with Caramelized Onions (From Bon Appetit)

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
1/2 pound shallots, thinly sliced
Coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir until brown and glazed, about 3 minutes.

Halve brussels sprouts lengthwise. Cut lengthwise into thin (1/8-inch) slices. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sprouts; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown at edges, 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and 3 tablespoons butter. Sauté until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender but still bright green, 3 minutes. Add shallots; season with salt and pepper.

November SHF

definitely not martha is hosting this month's Sugar High Friday, and the theme is "The Beta Carotene Harvest." I made these pumpkin cupcakes for my housemate's birthday, which also coincided with Halloween (leading to a party called "Joshoween!"). They were a big hit at the party. Another housemate did the great decorating--I can't take credit for that! :)

Pumpkin Cupcakes (from

4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup milk
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Whisk together pumpkin and milk and set aside.
4. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and beat until smooth.
5. Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the pumpkin-milk mixture.
6. Pour into muffin tins and bake 18-20 minutes.

The original recipe calls for buttermilk icing (recipe here), but I just used a simple cream cheese frosting instead, made up of an 8 oz. package of softened whipped cream, a few tablespoons of butter, and some powdered sugar.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chocolate Cupcakes

More chocolate cupcakes for my service auction donation this month...this month a double order, half frosted with chocolate and half with vanilla.

The cupcakes are from Martha Stewart and always work out perfectly. The chocolate frosting is from a recipe I found on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Both those recipes can be found here, from the last time I made these cupcakes. The vanilla frosting did not turn out as well as I'd was just powdered sugar, butter, cream, milk, and vanilla, but I think I might have gotten the proportions wrong. It tasted good but didn't look amazing. All in all though, yum!

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
makes 24 cupcakes or a few more

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c plus 2 T cake flour
1 1/4 c Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 c sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 large whole eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 c milk
1/2 c plus 2 T vegetable oil
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c warm water

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Put the dry ingredients into a big bowl (flours, cocoa, sugar, soda, b. powder, salt). Whisk together, then add the eggs and yolk, milk, oil, vanilla, and water. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

Divide batter among muffin tins, filling each 2/3 of the way full. Bake about 20 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Cool slightly, then remove from tins and cool fully.

If you don't have cake flour, you can substitute it with one cup of all purpose flour, but I think it makes them extra fluffy.

When they're fully cooled, make the most amazing frosting ever:

Chocolate Ganache Frosting
adapted slightly from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c whipping cream
1/4 c butter at room temperature
2 c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c whole milk
1 1/4 tsp vanilla

You can really use different combinations of chocolate based on what you have on hand--more unsweetened and bittersweet will make it darker, more semi-sweet will make it less dark. I don't think I'd use milk chocolate, though. In any case, chop up 8 oz. total of chocolate into small pieces and put in a heat-proof, microwave-proof bowl.

Heat up the cream, stirring occasionally, until bubbles form and break around the edges. Pour over the chocolate. Wait 1 minute, then stir until combined. You might need to microwave the bowl for about 15 seconds to make sure everything gets melted. Add the butter to the bowl and whisk until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla. Whisk until everything is combined and there are no big lumps.

Add the sugar to the chocolate and whisk to combine, then let sit for about 10-15 minutes at room temperature until thickened.

Beat the frosting with an electric mixer until fluffy and a little lighter in color. If this doesn't happen easily, you might need to wait a few more minutes and try again.

Bring your favorite chocolate dessert to Roxana’s Home Baking#ChocolateParty and win amazing prizes from OXOCalphalonKeurigImperial SugarHoney Ridge Farms and Land O Lakes® Butter!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pecan French Toast with Autumn Fruit Sauce

After a disastrous morning (a raccoon got trapped in my housemate's room and went nuts), this french toast was just what we needed. Make your favorite french toast recipe and then dip it in a plate of finely chopped pecans before frying it up. Serve with this delicious, creamy fruit sauce...

Autumn Fruit Compote

Melt a little butter in a small pot. Add:
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 pear, peeled and chopped
1 persimmon, peeled and chopped
brown sugar, to taste
Cook down until the fruit is soft, adding water as needed so that it doesn't stick to the pot. When the fruit is relatively soft, add a tablespoon more of butter and a few tablespoons of warm cream. Let the liquid reduce and the fruit soften further until the sauce is to your liking.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Florida Pie!

My housemate Jessie and I had a girls' night last night, which was superfun and exactly what we needed. As part of it, I made this Florida Pie, which was also perfect given the unseasonably warm weather we've been having. It's got a graham cracker crust, a layer of coconut cream, a layer of key lime pie, and then it's all topped with meringue. I even got to use our house's mini blowtorch to brown the meringue! The best part is that each component is extremely easy, so even though the pie looks amazing and has a lot of parts, it's actually totally possible to throw it together on a moment's notice. It's also completely delicious!

One note of warning--keep leftovers in the freezer...the fridge isn't quite cool enough to keep one or another part of it from getting a little liquid-y and making the crust mushy...not the end of the world by any means, but generally the freezer should prevent this (Dorie suggests letting it sit for 30 minutes to soften up before eating).

Florida Pie (From Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours)

1 9-inch graham cracker crust
1 1/3 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c shredded coconut (The recipe calls for sweetened, but I could only find unsweetened so I just added some sugar to taste.)
4 large eggs, separated
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c lime juice
1/4 c sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put pie plate on a baking sheet
2. Put cream and 1 c coconut in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook until reduced by half and slightly thickened. Set aside to cool in a separate bowl.
3. Beat egg yolks on high until thick and pale. Beat in condensed milk and then half the lime juice on low speed. Add the rest of the lime juice and mix to combine.
4. Spread coconut cream into the graham cracker crust and then pour the lime mixture on top. Bake 12 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and then put in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
5. Put 4 egg whites and sugar in a saucepan and heat over medium low heat until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer to a bowl and beat until the hold firm peaks. Fold in the last 1/2 c coconut.
6. Spread meringue over the pie and either run it under the broiler or use a kitchen blow torch to brown the top. Put the pie back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Chocolate Chunkers

Yum, yum, yum. I made Dorie's Chocolate Chunkers for a student lunch at my church this morning and everyone was delighted with how tasty they were...the cookies are very intense but also very addictive. You can add whatever mix-in-y things you want...I deviated a bit from the recipe but it still turned out great...the trick is just adding lots of them. :) I went crazy in the bulk food area at Berkeley Bowl so I was able to get little bits of lots of things.

Also, check out this awesomer-than-usual photo, courtesy of my housemate Josh...he lent me his mini-tripod and gave me some tips on photographing, so hopefully this will help my photography skillz in the future, too! I know they're not up to the snuff of many food bloggers, but I'm working on it!

Chocolate Chunkers (From Baking from My Home to Yours)

1/3 c flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 T unsalted butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Lots of mix-ins...I used a Green & Blacks vanilla white chocolate bar, some chopped up bittersweet chocolate, raisins, dried cranberries, roasted almonds, and toasted pecans.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate until smooth but not so hot the butter separates. Cool slightly.
3. Whisk together eggs and sugar until light and frothy. Whisk in the vanilla. Mix in the chocolate-butter mixture, and then the dry ingredients (at some point you'll have to switch to a rubber spatula). Mix in your mix-ins. :)
4. Drop onto baking sheets covered in tin foil or parchment paper and bake one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes each. The tops will look mostly dry but the interior of the cookies will still be soft.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Farfalle with Arugula Gremolata

I just got Mollie Katzen's new book The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without from Amazon and am already loving it. I've totally fallen in love with her past books and this one is not a disappointment at all. The recipe I tried this evening, "Farfalle with Arugula Gremolata" was very delicious. The arugula was a little bitter to my taste; I might do part arugula and part spinach next time.

This was also my first time using my new food processor! It was very exciting, and I'm now totally convinced that it was great purchase...compared to those terrible mini food processors I've been using all my life, this one:
a) is completely quiet!
b) actually chops things!
c) is easy to clean!

Here's the gremolata by itself, along with some slices of these great heirloom tomatoes I got at Berkeley Bowl.

And here's the final dish...

Farfalle with Arugula Gremolata (adapted from The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without)


Chop in food processor until finely chopped but not pureed:
2 cups loosely packed arugula leaves
2 big garlic cloves
peel from 1 orange

Season with salt and pepper


3/4 lb. farfalle
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 recipe Gremolata
Chopped dried cranberries
3 smallish tomatoes, chopped
Crumbled goat cheese
1/2 c minced walnuts, toasted

Cook the pasta. Drain and toss with olive oil immediately. Add the gremolata, cranberries, and tomatoes and toss again. Spook into serving dishes and sprinkle with cheese and walnuts. Yum!

And again, don't forget to check out Sweetnicks's ARF/5-A-Day roundup starting Tuesday evening here. I've also been enjoying reading all the entries in Presto Pasta Night, where the round-up is posted every Friday.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

This soup was really delicious, although I would add more sausage next time, and maybe some white beans (suggestion of my housemate Jessie). An excellent post-Halloween party soup. Green beans roasted in sesame oil are on the side.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup (Bon Appetit, October 2006)

3 T olive oil
12 oz Portuguese linguica sausage or chorizo, cut into 1/4-in slices
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. orange sweet potatoes, quartered and cut into 1/4-in slices
1 lb. white sweet potatoes, quartered and cut into 1/4-in slices
6 c chicken broth
1 bunch fresh spinach (or 9-oz. bag)

Heat 2 T oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cooking until brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Add onions and garlic to the pot and cook until translucent, 5 minutes. Add the potatoes (and a bit more oil if needed) and cook until beginning to soften, about 12 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, and then simmer, covered, until potatoes are soft, 20 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash some of the potatoes in the pot until you get a consistency you like. (I also boiled the soup a few more minutes at this point to help it thicken up.) Add browned sausage back to the soup along with spinach. Simmer until spinach is just wilted, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

I thought this dish would be perfect for Sweetnicks's ARF/5-A-Day roundup since it has lots of yummy veggies in can see the rest of the entries here, starting on Tuesday evening.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Happy 24!

A couple of weekends ago, my housemate and I had a joint birthday party and we each baked a cake for the occasion. My housemate made chocolate with chocolate buttercream frosting and I made coconut with seven-minute frosting. Cakes are much more complicated than cupcakes, I realized, but it was still a lot of fun. The cake itself was one I'd made for my mom's birthday a couple of years ago, so I knew it would be tasty. I'd never made seven-minute frosting before, what with the double boiler (which we don't have, so I was desperately trying to hold two pans together), the candy thermometer (which we also don't have; I think I was using a meat thermometer?), and then of course the seven minutes of beating the icing (not too terrible, but a little trickier with a hand mixer than with a stand mixer). But, it was worth it! The frosting turned out great, shiny and meringue-y, and tasted wonderful. One piece of advice is to not make this frosting too early--by the next day, the frosting on the leftover cake had serious problems and had lost most of their air in it (though it was still delicious, it wouldn't look right for presenting the cake).

Coconut Cake (recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

3 sticks unsalted butter
3 1/2 c flour
1 T plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c packed sweetened, shredded coconut
2 2/3 c sugar
4 large whole eggs
4 large egg whites
1 T vanilla
1 1/2 c unsweetened coconut milk (from 1 can)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9x9x2 square baking pans (I used 8-inch square pans and didn't have a problem). Dust with flour.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse shredded coconut in a food processor until finely chopped and then mix into flour mixture.

3. With an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the whole eggs, egg whites, and vanilla until fully incorporated. On low speed, add the flour in two parts, alternating with coconut milk and beginning and ending with the flour.

4. Divide batter between pans and smooth. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes, then remove from pans and let the cakes cool completely.

5. Frost with seven-minute frosting between layers (1 1/2 c) and spread all over the rest of the cake.

Seven-Minute Frosting

1 1/2 c sugar
2 T light corn syrup
6 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

1. Combine sugar, corn syrup, 1/4 c water, and egg whites in a double boiler set over simmering water. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes (took mine longer).

2. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until glossy and voluminous, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Use immediately.

Here we are with the cakes!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Unbaked Beans, Cornbread, and Roasted Veggies

Dinner tonight was extra delicious. I had some leftover bean-and-bacon soup that I made yesterday night, and which mostly tastes like baked beans but even better, along with cornbread, roasted sweet dumpling squash, and roasted green beans. The beans are great--the taste of baked beans but without any baking, and very easy to do. The cornbread is also very easy and good--adapted from a corn muffin recipe of Dorie Greenspan's, but baked in a round pan.

I recommend looking for the sweet dumpling squash if you can find it--acorn is also delicious, but the sweet dumpling is really special. We got a couple in our CSA box last week and have greatly enjoyed them.

Unbaked Beans (slightly adapted from Food and Wine)

6 oz. thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 T tomato paste
1 T maple syrup or 2 tsp brown sugar and 1 heaping tsp honey
Two 15-oz. cans pink or red beans, not drained
3 c chicken stock
Salt and Pepper
Cayenne Pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, cook bacon over medium high heat until browned and crisped, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a place and pour off all but 2 T of the oil.

2. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and syrup or sugar/honey, and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until everything is incorporated and bubbling. Add the beans with their liquid and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock and bacon, season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and simmer over moderate heat until thickened, about 15-20 minutes or more (depending on how thick you want it).

Corniest Cornbread (slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Corniest Corn Muffins)

1 c all purpose flour
1 c cornmeal
6 T sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 c buttermilk
3 t melted butter, cooled
3 T vegetable oil
1 egg
1 egg yolk

1 c frozen (or fresh) corn
fresh marjoram, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round pan or a muffin tin.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients. In a glass measuring cup, combine wet ingredients and whisk together. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix together with a rubber spatula, being careful not to overmix. Stir in the corn and marjoram.

3. Bake until a tester comes out clean and cool slightly before cutting into wedges.

Roasted Squash and Green Beans

1 sweet dumpling squash
1 acorn squash
olive oil
green beans
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with tin foil. Cut the squashes in half and use a pastry brush to brush oil over all the cut surfaces. Place face-down on the cookie sheet, two on each end with a gap in the middle. Put the squashes in the oven.

While the squash starts to cook, prepare the beans by rinsing and then cutting off both ends of each bean. Toss in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pull out the cookie sheet and dump the beans in the middle.

Bake about 20-25 minutes longer until the squash is soft and the beans are nicely browned. You may want to check one or two times during cooking and toss the beans to make sure they don't burn. Optionally, toss the green beans with balsamic vinegar before serving. The squash is also excellent with a scoop of sour cream on top.

Welcome and Pecan Scones

Hi! I have decided that I cook and bake enough to want to warrant snapping a few shots and posting them here...we'll see how long the experiment lasts!

This week, I've been particularly excited to start cooking from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours, which is of course famous in the blogosphere but which I just got in the mail...yay! The first recipe I made was the Corniest Corn Muffins, which I'll post about later, but today I made her Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits...I iced them and called them scones, and my housemates never knew the difference. ;) Very delicious! I love making scones because they're super easy but feel very special, and these definitely did not disappoint.

Pecan Scones (slightly adapted from Dorie's recipe)

Makes 12

2 c all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 c packed brown sugar

5 T cold unsalted butter, cut into lots of small pieces

1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c milk

2/3 c pecans

confectioner's sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coarsely chop the pecans and then toast them over medium heat in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and soda. Whisk in the brown sugar. Drop in the butter and cut in with a pastry cutter (or your fingers).

3. Stir together the sour cream and milk and pour in. Mix together with a fork and then knead briefly to bring the dough together. Knead in the pecans. Scoop up spoonfuls of the dough and pat into 12 rounds. Place on a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil. Bake about 12-15 minutes until nicely browned on the bottom.

4. Make a quick icing--mix together confectioner's sugar and half-and-half until you get a thick but drizzle-able consistency. Drizzle over the scones and eat them warm.