Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tasty Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

This pulled pork recipe satisfied die-hard barbecue fans from Arkansas and North Carolina, so you know it's good! The pork was moist and perfectly tender, with excellent flavor. The BBQ sauce was savory and spicy, with a really complex flavor. Best of all, this is one of the easiest recipes ever since it cooks up in the slow cooker while you're at work. The sauce is also a breeze: everything just gets thrown into the blender and then simmered for about 15 minutes until thick and delicious. I served the pulled pork with collard greens and homemade bread for a perfect summer dinner.

I'm sending this post off to BSI: Cumin!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (adapted from My Husband Cooks)
(Serves 6-7)

6 pounds bone-in pork butt
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup salt
2 T chili powder
2 T cumin
1 T red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 cup chicken stock

Combine the sugar, salt, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, and cayenne in a bowl. Stir well to combine. Rub the pork all over with the spice rub, and then place in a large container and chill overnight. The pork will release some liquid, so be sure your container is large enough to prevent overflow.

In the morning, place the pork in the slow cooker with the chicken stock. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, until tender. Transfer the pork to a large pot and cook in a 275 degree oven for about half an hour to help it crisp up. Serve with barbecue sauce.

Spicy Apricot BBQ Sauce (adapted from Coconut and Lime)

1/4 red onion, diced
12 ounces tomato paste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Coca-Cola
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 T mustard powder
1 T ground black pepper
1 T ground chipotle (less if you're sensitive)
1 T unsalted butter
1 tsp mesquite liquid smoke
2 apricots, finely diced
1 T muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)

Put everything in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let sit at least a few hours to allow the flavors to develop. Reheat before using.

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

Monday, July 27, 2009

July DB: Coconut-Marshmallow Cookies

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. We had the option to bake either recipe, and I chose the marshmallow cookies.

I've been wanting to try my hand at homemade marshmallows for a quite a while now, so I was delighted to see it was part of the challenge this month! The marshmallows were much easier to make than I thought they would be. The "batter" (not sure what you'd call it since they're not baked!) was easy to whip up, and it piped beautifully. The gelatin worked perfectly to help the mallows set up firmly rather than drooping. The final marshmallows were soft, pillow-y, and perfectly sweet. I definitely want to try some of the flavored marshmallow recipes floating around soon!

The marshmallows are piped onto a cookie base, which I wasn't so crazy about. First, it was a huge pain to work with because the dough was so soft. Second, although the cookies were crisp and delicious right out of the oven, they softened up as they cooled, especially once the marshmallows were on them. Overall, they just weren't flavorful or crisp enough to stand up to the marshmallow. Next time, I'd use a crisp, buttery shortbread recipe.

Finally, you might notice that my cookies aren't dipped in chocolate! For whatever reason, the chocolate topping just didn't appeal to me. Usually I'm a chocoholic, but chocolate covered marshmallows have never really been my thing. So, instead I opted to toast some unsweetened coconut in the oven and sprinkle it over the mallows before they had set. Yum! Thanks to hostess Nicole for a great challenge this month!

Coconut-Marshmallow Cookies (adapted from Gale Gand)

3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
3 eggs, whisked together
Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
Unsweetened coconut, toasted until nicely browned

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Carefully slice the dough into thin rounds, returning the dough to the refrigerator as needed.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Immediately sprinkle over the toasted coconut and then let set at room temperature for about 2 hours.
10. The cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature.
Homemade Marshmallows:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 egg whites , room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Honey-Maple Cake

When I saw this maple cake on The Food Librarian's blog, I knew I had to make it! My photos may not look quite as tempting as hers, but it was still super delicious--sweet, moist, and flavorful. We didn't have quite enough maple syrup for the recipe, and so instead substituted quite a bit of honey, which worked well. The flavors of honey and maple syrup combine really well here, but I think either one alone would also work well.

Honey-Maple Cake (adapted from The Food Librarian)

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream

Maple Glaze:
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 T melted butter
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, maple sugar, honey, and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla.
3. On low speed, alternate the flour mixture and sour cream until everything is combined, beginning and ending with the flour. Be careful not to overmix.
6. Pour into a buttered and floured square pan or cupcake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, remove and cool completely on a rack.
7. Make the Maple Glaze: whisk together all ingredients and then pour over the cooled cake.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Braised Collard Greens with Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Corn

This dish makes an incredibly yummy, almost-vegetarian summer dinner. The greens are a recipe my housemate Josh made last summer with collards from our garden. This time I had to make do with mostly store-bought greens (plus a few from the garden), but it was still delicious! The recipe definitely makes a lot of greens, so adjust the recipe accordingly! Don't worry, though, the leftovers keep well and are delicious the next day. (In fact, these greens are left over from a pulled pork barbecue dinner...shh, don't tell!)

The potatoes and corn are super quick and easy, and complement the greens perfectly. I got fresh corn at the farmer's market and kept it super simple to feature the super-fresh flavors. For the mashed potatoes, I combined half Yukon Golds and half purple potatoes. I thought this might yield pretty lavender mashed potatoes, but instead they turned out slightly gray...but they were still delicious! Be sure to add lots of salt, as that's what makes mashed potatoes extra good in my opinion.

Braised Collard Greens (adapted from Epicurious and Josh)
Serves 8

1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into fourths
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1 T firmly packed muscovado or dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 pounds collard greens, coarse stems and ribs discarded and leaves and thin stems washed well, drained, and chopped coarse
A few glugs of beer

1. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Add the onions and cook until softened and slightly browned, stirring occasionally. Transfer onions to a bowl.

2. Add the broth, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and about half of bacon to the pot, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add about half of collards, tossing until wilted slightly, and then add remaining collards, tossing until combined. Simmer the collards, covered, 30 minutes. Add beer as needed to keep everything nice and moist. Stir in onions and simmer, covered, 30 minutes more, or until collards are very tender, adding more beer as needed.

3. Serve the collards topped with the remaining bacon.

Mashed Potatoes: Peel and chop a combination of Yukon Gold and purple potatoes. Cook them in boiling water until very tender. Drain, and then mash with butter, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper.

Sweet Corn: Stand each cob of corn (count on one per person) on end in a bowl. Cut off the kernels. Then heat some olive oil in a skillet until hot. Add the corn, and saute for just a minute or so, until tender and slightly browned. Top with chopped basil.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sweet Potato, Eggplant, and Spinach Curry

I spotted this curry dish on Serious Eats and thought it sounded amazing! Lots of yummy spices and three different veggies sounded like just the ticket for a vegetarian dinner. In reading the post and the comments below it, it sounded like the dish was a little dry, while I prefer my curry a little more on the sauce-y side. Therefore, I added just a bit of coconut milk for liquid and flavor, while still keeping the curry healthy. I also added the spinach raw and let it wilt down instead of steaming it and squeezing out the water, which helped keep the dish moist as well.

I served the curry over brown rice, but it would also be tasty with any other rice or with a fluffy bread like naan. The textures and flavors of the eggplant, potatoes, and spinach combine perfectly, and the coconut milk adds a nice sweetness. You could also substitute or add some different vegetables here to change things up: zucchini or green beans would be excellent choices.

Sweet Potato, Eggplant, and Spinach Curry (adapted from Serious Eats, original recipe here)

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces
Kosher salt
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 big handfuls baby spinach
1 T curry powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 cup coconut milk, divided

1. Cube the eggplant first, and place in a colander. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet until hot. Add the mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds. Turn down the heat, and add the garlic and cumin. Saute for about 1 minute, and then add the sweet potato. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the sweet potato is beginning to get tender.
3. Rinse off the eggplant, and then add to the skillet along with one handful of baby spinach, the curry powder, the salt, and the tumeric. Stir to combine, and add more spinach as the previous additions wilt to make room.
4. Add 1/4 cup coconut milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is mostly absorbed by the vegetables, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk (you could omit this if you don't like your curry as creamy), stir to combine, and then turn the heat down to low and cover the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender. Once cooked, remove from the heat and let the skillet sit, covered, for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. (You can cook your rice during this time, if you wish to serve the curry with rice.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Parsley-Dill Potatoes and Beans

We made this side dish as an alternative to potato salad for the Fourth of July because we were in a bit of potato salad overload. The butter here keeps the veggies nice and tasty, but isn't as rich as all the mayonnaise in a traditional potato salad. I love the addition of green and wax beans; their mild flavor goes well with the starchy potatoes. The fresh herbs (we used some from my mom's herb garden) brightened up the dish beautifully, and overall this was sort of addictive...I couldn't help snagging one more potato or wax bean! Yum.

Parsley-Dill Potatoes and Beans

Steam together scrubbed new potatoes (halved if large), green and wax beans (trimmed), and half of a small white onion (very thinly sliced). When everything is tender, transfer to a large bowl and add 1-2 T salted butter. Stir to melt the butter. Finely chop a generous handful of parsley and a few sprigs of dill (to taste). Sprinkle the herbs over the vegetables and gently stir to combine.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mango-Chicken Curry

This is another dish I made in Ohio with my mom. Since I wasn't able to be home for Mother's Day, I asked her what food she'd most like to eat for a belated Mother's Day dinner or dessert. She picked Mango Curry (a favorite of ours at Thai restaurants), and I found a fantastic recipe on Closet Cooking. Let me tell you, this version definitely rivals restaurant Mango Curry! It's sweet, savory, and all-around delicious. You can make it as hot or mild as you want by adjusting the number and variety of peppers; one jalepeno made a fairly mild version.

The mango pureed in the sauce might be the secret ingredient, since it infuses the whole dish with mango flavor even when you're eating a bite of something else. Feel free to switch up the veggies, although the green peppers were really excellent as a slightly bitter counterpart to the sweetness of the rest of the dish. I think this would also be great with pressed and sauteed tofu in place of the chicken. We just couldn't stop eating this, and I will definitely be making it again now that I'm back in California.

Mango-Chicken Curry (adapted from Closet Cooking, original recipe here)

1 tablespoon oil
1 pound chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb ginger, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tomato, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 mango, pureed
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 mango, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 handful salted cashews

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the chicken. Saute until it is browned and fully cooked through, and then set aside on a plate.
2. Add the butter to the same pan and stir occasionally until melted. Add the onions and peppers and stir occasionally until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the garlic, ginger, jalepeno, and flour and stir until the flour is fully mixed in with the other ingredients. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, for a few minutes.
4. Add the tomato, chicken stock, mango, and yogurt, and bring the curry to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and everything is well cooked.
5. Add the mango, cilantro, cashews, and reserved chicken and remove from the heat. Serve with rice.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Roasted Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Honey Walnuts

I just got back to Berkeley from visiting my parents in Ohio this past Sunday, so I'll be featuring some Ohio recipes that I made with my mom over the next few posts (and a few have already been popping up, as you may have noticed!) I always love cooking with my mom in the kitchen, so these recipes are always special! One even features an ingredient that's impossible to find in Berkeley: sour cherries!

This salad is an excellent combination of sweet and salty with lots of textures and flavors going on. I love roasted vegetables, so the roasted broccoli here is one of my favorite components. Its nutty flavor goes well with the sauteed chickpeas. The honeyed walnuts add a unique and satisfying sweet twist to the salad, and the feta cheese is salty and delicious. The salad dressing here is also a real winner, and one I will definitely be using over and over again in various salad recipes. You could switch out the balsamic for another vinegar as well. The salad was topped off with salad from my mom's garden.

Roasted Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Honey Walnuts (adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine)
Serves 4

For the broccoli
2 small heads of broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
3 T olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chickpeas
2 T olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 can (15 ouncea) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Coarse salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

For the vinaigrette
2 T Dijon mustard
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp coarse salt
A few grinds black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

For the honey walnuts
3 T honey
4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 cup walnuts
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To assemble the salad
A few handfuls salad greens (we used greens from my mom's garden, but Romaine or baby lettuce would be good too)
A handful feta cheese, crumbled

1. Make the broccoli: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the broccoli with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the chickpeas: Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, and season with salt. Cook for a minute, stirring, and then add the vinegar. Cook until the liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes.
3. Make the vinaigrette: Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid, screw on the lid, and shake until well combined.
4. When the broccoli is done, make the honey walnuts: Turn the oven down to 400 degrees. Stir together the honey and lemon juice in a small bowl, and then add the walnuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Stir occasionally while the nuts are roasting. Let cool, and then coarsely chop.
5. Assemble the salad. Toss together the broccoli, chickpeas, walnuts, and salad greens in a salad bowl. Add dressing and toss. Top with feta cheese.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Individual Asparagus-Manchego Tart

This month's theme for You Want Pies with That was Taste of Summer Pie. We had to create a pie that evoked the tastes and flavors of summer. I picked fresh asparagus as my summer veggie, and paired it with a puff pastry crust and nutty Spanish Manchego cheese. Marcia's Kitchen made a similar tart with Gruyere cheese, but the Manchego was on sale at the grocery and I thought the taste would be excellent with the asparagus.

I made an individual tart for a quick summer dinner, but you could easily multiply this recipe to make multiple servings. I'd suggest serving this with more veggies (I roasted some more asparagus, but a light salad would be great too).

Individual Asparagus-Manchego Tart (adapted from Marcia's Kitchen)

1/3 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
4-5 stalks asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
Manchego cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Roll out the puff pastry until it is as long as the asparagus. Score the edges of the pastry about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from all the edges. Prick the inside of the rectangle and leave the edges un-pricked.
3. Bake the tart for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Place the asparagus in a neat row on the puff pastry, and then generously grate Manchego cheese over the top.
4. Bake the tart for another 10-15 minutes until it is nicely browned and the asparagus is tender. Remove from the oven and grate more cheese over the top. Serve with freshly ground black pepper.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Vanilla Pound Cake

My mom and I made this vanilla loaf cake for my dad for Father's Day, but it would be equally delicious for today, the Fourth of July (just throw some blueberries on that plate!). We used a delicious recipe from Caviar and Codfish that I bookmarked a while back but never got around to making. (Oh, my backlog of bookmarked recipes! Someday I will have to start a special day for everyone to post recipes that have caught their eye from other blogs like Magazine Mondays.)

Anyway, back to the cake! We had to make a few changes, namely reducing the double vanilla (bean and extract) to just extract since my mom didn't have vanilla beans on hand, but the pound cake was none the worse for it and was absolutely delicious, with the vanilla flavor coming through very well! I also mixed the batter a bit wrong due to not having left enough room in my "butter and sugar and eggs" bowl, which may have contributed to those unsightly stripes you see in the picture...or that could be undercooking...either way, it tasted excellent so we ignored the cosmetic problems! If anything, I think you'd want to undercook this pound cake a tad rather than overcooking to ensure that it doesn't get dry. The cake is only improved by the addition of fresh fruit like these strawberries from the orchard behind my parents' house.

Vanilla Pound Cake (adapted from Caviar and Codfish, original recipe here)
Makes 1 loaf pan sized cake

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (7 ounces) sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
Fresh fruit, to serve (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour one loaf pan.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until well mixed after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.
3. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
4. Add the flour mixture and the sour cream in alternating additions (flour-sour cream-flour-sour cream-flour), mixing well after each addition.
5. Scrape the dough into a buttered and floured loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
6. Cool and serve with fresh fruit.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fourth of July Desserts and Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream Sandwiches

The Fourth is coming up, so I thought I'd make a list of all the red, white, and/or blue desserts I've made over the past couple of years (mostly red/pink, to be fair!). You could make these even more patriotic by adding complementary fruits: for example, a handful of blueberries on top of the raspberry gelato would be delicious! I also won't leave you without a new recipe: my mom says this strawberry sour cream ice cream is the best ice cream she's ever tasted!

The strawberry flavor in this ice cream really comes through, and the addition of sour cream adds a delicious tang. It's also not overly rich with no egg yolks and just a half cup of heavy cream, while still providing that satisfying ice cream texture. I thought it was amazing sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies; this recipe is nice because they're crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside, and they're also thin enough to eat this way without all the ice cream squooshing out of the ice cream sandwich. I think these would be perfect for the Fourth because they're portable and delicious, and the pink ice cream is perfect for the holiday (especially if you added some black raspberries or blueberries sandwiched in between the cookie and ice cream!).

Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream (adapted from The Perfect Scoop)
Makes about 1 1/2 pints

1/2 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
1/4 cup sugar, more to taste
1/2 T vodka or kirsch, optional
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Place the strawberries in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch, if using. Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.
2. Place the strawberry mixture in a food processor or blender and add the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice. Pulse until the mixture is smooth with some pieces of strawberry remaining (not too large or they will become icy once frozen). Taste and adjust for additional sugar or lemon juice.
3. Chill the mixture until cold, and then freeze in your ice cream maker.

Other Perfect Desserts for the Fourth

Ice Creams:
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Strawberry-Balsamic Ice Cream
Raspberry Gelato

Strawberry Cupcakes
Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes (midway through the post)
Neapolitan Cupcakes
Raspberry Cupcakes

Pies & Tarts:
Meyer Lemon-Strawberry Tart
Blueberry-Raspberry Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Berry-Brioche Bread Pudding
Yeasted Sugar Cake with Strawberry Sauce
4th of July Star Cookies (scroll to end of post)

I'm also entering the strawberry ice cream featured above in the July Ice Cream Social hosted by Scotty Snacks, SavortheThyme and Tangled Noodle.