Thursday, April 29, 2010

Buttermilk Quick Bread

As promised here is the quick bread that I was talking about in my Pass the Peas Please post.  This is a nice quick bread that packs lots of flavor.   I really liked it because it was easy peasy.

Buttermilk Quick Bread
from this recipe at Cooking Light

9 ounces unbleached, all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg plus one egg white
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. In a seperate bowl combine buttermilk, butter, and egg whites, stirring with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Pour batter into an 8 x 4–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Suet Pudding

"Georgie Porgie pudding and pie, kiss the girls and made them cry. When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away." Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet

I did a little research and came up with a couple that I wanted to try.

First things first; I had to go to the store and find suet. To my amazement the butcher walked right up to the case and pulled out a package of suet. It said on there "suet, can be used for pudding." Who knew? I do know people feed it to birds in the winter but I never expected to find it so easily and for it to say "can be used for puddings".

Honestly, I was a little put off by the looks of it but pressed onward despite that.  In thinking about it though, how different is it really than any other fat around.  And unlike vegetable shortening, it is all natural.

I first made a jam pudding recipe because it was small and I could see if my four year old and I would like it before springing a recipe on the rest of the family.  Blimey!  We loved it!

Jam Suet Pudding
recipe source Cook It Simply

1 cup (4 oz) 110 g self-raising flour, sifted
pinch salt
1/4 cup (2 oz) sugar
2 oz (50 g) shredded suet
2 tbsp milk
4 tbsp jam of choice
1 1/3 cup (5 1/2 oz) 150 g self raising (self rising) flour
3 oz (75 g) shredded suet

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl.
Add the sugar and shredded suet and blend well.
Gradually stir in the milk, blending until the mixture is firm.
Grease a 1 pint (600 ml) pudding basin.
Line the base with two thirds of the pastry and put the jam in the bottom.
Cover the pudding with the remaining pastry, then cover with greased greaseproof paper making a pleat across the top for the pudding to rise.
Secure the paper around the basin with string.
Place the basin over a saucepan of water and boil for 1 1/2 hours.
Turn out onto a warm serving dish and heat some extra jam or make custard to pour over the top.

Then I made this more elaborate one for my family and parents to try.

Apricot Pudding

2/3 cup (75 g) 3 oz dried apricots, soaked overnight
4 oz (100 g) golden syrup (substitute light corn syrup)
1 1/4 cup (75 g) fresh white breadcrumbs (maybe it is me but I found that 1 1/4 cups and 75 grams of bread crumbs were not the same thing.  I went with the weight measurement)
finely grated rind and juice of 1 medium orange
3 ounces shredded suet
1 1/3 cup flour
enough milk to bind the dough

Drain and roughly chop the apricots. Combine with the syrup, 25 g (1 oz) of the breadcrumbs and the orange rind.
Mix the remaining breadcrumbs with the flour and suet.
Bind to a soft dough with the strained orange juice and a little milk.
Grease an 18-cm (7-inch) heatproof jelly mould or a 1-litre (1 1/2-pint) pudding basin and spoon a good covering of apricot mixture into the base.
Divide the pastry into three pieces.
Roll out each piece to a round, graduating in size.
Place the smallest round over the apricot mixture in the base.
Repeat the layering and finish with the largest round of pastry. Cover with greased greaseproof paper and encase loosely in foil.
Tie string around and steam for about 2 1/2 hours.
Turn out on to a warmed plate and serve with heated golden syrup and pouring cream.

We loved this jam one.  I would do this one again.  There are a number of them from other Daring Bakers that I would love to try as well.  A chocolate one, Spotted Dick, lamington...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pass the Peas Please

A seriously good, much needed get together with some friends this past Saturday. I made soup and salad with a nice quick bread on the side. I will share the bread recipe with you soon, I promise. I may have to make it again to get a picture because my husband is doing one of his magical disappearing acts, with bread.

My daughter, the four year old, whole heartedly believes that my husband is quite capable of disappearing. And my seven year old mostly believes it too, I think. For one, I am always saying that he is doing a disappearing act because when it comes time to do dishes, you turn around and he is gone. I always ask, did Daddy disappear again?

When he takes them upstairs to do nightly bed time rituals he plays a game of hide and go seek. He hides in his favorite spot and they never can find him. He told them, I disappear, that's why you can't find me. My seven year old told our neighbors daughter on the bus ride home that her Daddy can disappear. My neighbor had asked me if she can some and observe his vanishing act as well. Inside I just had to giggle, if you only knew how often he disappears. He can make a lot of food disappear as well.

I found this recipe on Pinch My Salt. A really ncie blog with lots of yummy pictures and recipes. I am so glad that she made this recipe quite by chance. We sure loved it. I did alter it a tad so make sure you check out hers as well.

Edamame and Pea Soup with Herbed Lemon Cream
adapted from this recipe at Pinch My Salt

1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups shelled edamame
1 cup green peans
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup chopped chives
salt to taste

Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and cook until softened and just starting to brown.  Stir in edamame and peas then add chicken or vegetable stock.  Turn heat up and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the lemon cream (recipe below).

After soup has simmered for 20 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Puree the soup in a blender until completely smooth.  Return to the pot and reheat, if necessary.  Serve soup with a spoonful of herbed lemon cream on top and a sprinkle of chives.

Yield: 6 servings

Herbed Lemon Cream

1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoon chopped dried mint
zest and juice from 1/2 a lemon

Whisk ingredients together and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cheesy Lentil Burgers

After a busy week of Spring break, here I am tired but I had to post this recipe.  It's too good to not share.  The original idea really came from this amazing post at Jennie's Kitchen. 

Cheesy Lentil Burgers

2 cups lentils, cooked
3/4 cup shitake mushrooms, rehydrated or 1 cup fresh, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chiffonade
2 generous tablespoons chopped walnuts
1/2 cup ricotta
2/3 cup peccorino romano or parmesan
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs

Combine all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Mix thoroughly.
(If you are using rehydrated shitake mushrooms, be sure to squeeze out the excess water before chopping and mixing with the rest of the ingredients.) Form into patties and fry.  I used an inch of oil to fry these patties but you could also use a frying pan sprayed with cooking oil or lightly grease. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Big Buns... you know for burgers

Has it really been since Friday since I last posted?  Spring break has been a busy time for us.  We have been crafting and playing. Some of the crafts will be popping up on my blog Craftication within the week.  One, a pillow case is already there but a tutorial will be following.

I saw these great buns on Serious Eats.  I love this other bun that I did some time ago but I am always looking to try a few more. This one was very light and tastey.  It was a very happy dough that made 8 big size buns.  If you want a smaller bun, I would definitely go with nine, maybe even ten.  I highly recommend the recipe but have one caveat.  I made a mistake when I made them and accidentally put the egg that was suppose to be for an egg wash in the dough.  So I added 3 eggs to that batter (probably the reason why they made such big buns!).

The recipe for the bean burger that's hiding in there will be my next post.

adapted from this recipe on Serious Eats

1/2 cup warm whole milk
3/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Combine milk, water, yeast, and sugar in small bowl or 2-cup glass measure. Let stand 5 minutes until foamy.  Combine flour and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook.  Add yeast mixture and mix on medium-low speed until combined. With mixer running, add three eggs, one at a time, waiting for eggs to become fully incorporated between additions. Add butter one tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated.

Continue to mix on medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes. If dough appears too sticky, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it pulls away from sides of mixer (it will still stick to bottom). Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic, 5-6 minutes longer.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume (about 2 hours at room temperature, or 8 hours in the refrigerator).  Grab from the bowl pieces about the size of golf balls (ping pong balls if you want smaller buns). Place the piece of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. You want to space them about 3 inches apart. I only placed about four for a standard size cookie sheet. Spray with non-stick cooking spray (or brush with oil), cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow to rise at room temperature until approximately doubled in volume (about two hours).

Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and upper-middle positions and preheat oven to 400°F.  Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer buns to rack and allow to cool completely.

Note:  If you want shiny buns follow the Serious Eats recipe.  

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bi Bim Bop and Loads of Gratitude

Sometimes I sit here with my photograph up and my recipe all written and wonder what the heck am I going to write about.  I think, have I had any startling revelations lately... no.  Is there something exciting happening in my life to talk about.... no.  Is there some news to report that I find particularly interesting or captivating.... no.  Have I traveled anywhere to talk about that... no.  Am I really that boring?  Um, well, yes and no.  I think I am a pretty upbeat person and all in all, am pretty fun to be around.  But having kids has definitely slowed down the exciting factor in my life.  I am certainly not complaining about that.  Kids are a precious gift that I thank God for all the time.  Having them at such a late age makes me even more grateful.  And stable may be boring to some, but it certainly has its advantages too.

Sometimes I look around at other blogs and it's not that I feel jealous, well maybe it is.  I would love to travel and see the places that people talk about or live in.  I am really a vagabond at heart.  While I love my home I have always enjoyed travel and I have enjoyed moving to new places so I can discover what that particular city has to offer. 

When I take a step back though I realize that I have so much to be grateful for.  I am a stay at home Mom, because of this, as a family we have had to give up certainly luxuries in our life.  Like, I think I am sometimes one of the only person in Middle Class America that does not have a cell phone.  Does not have cable.  Does not have a second car.  Does not go on a vacation every year.  You know, really all that stuff doesn't matter.  Sure I would like these things.  Right now I am grateful my husband has a job that affords me the luxury of staying home with my kids.  Our sacrifices also afford me that luxury.  I am grateful for healthy, happy, vibrant children that make me laugh, cry,  and scream.  I am grateful for a husband that drives me absolutely crazy one minute and the next minute I fall in love with him all over again.  I am grateful for the abundance of friends in my life, the ones that are new, the ones that have been in my life forever, the acquaintances at the gym that make me smile when I go.

I am grateful of course for having food on my table, recipes to share with you.  That is where I travel.  I travel to foreign lands with my food.  I love to learn about other cultures and food is a great place to begin learning.

I am grateful for all of you who visit my blog, I love the comments. They remind me that I am not alone and that there are other people who are surfing the net like me looking for companionship, commaradare, similarities, differences, opinions, (shopping), a laugh... just simply a connection.

Bi Bim Bop (Korean)
adapted from this recipe

1 pound sirloin tip steak or meat of your choice
1 cup teriyaki sauce (recipe follows)
3 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
2 cups bean sprouts
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large radishes, sliced or julienned
2 cucumbers, sliced

4 eggs
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Marinade for vegetables:

You can use seasoned rice vinegar or
mix together:

1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Hot chile paste, to serve on the side

Freeze the beef for at least 1 hour to make it easier to handle. Slice, cutting across the meat's grain, into 1/4-inch-thick strips, or smaller. Marinating the beef will certainly kick the flavor up a notch but I didnt find it totally necessary because there is a lot of flavor going on here already.

Cook the rice so that it is ready when you want to assemble the dish.

In a medium sized sauce pan bring about four cups of water to a boil, drop in sprouts and allow to cook for only 20 seconds, then remove the sprouts rinse under cold water (to cool them enough to stop the cooking process). Drain on paper towels. Set aside.  Next, cook the spinach the same way.

In a small bowl, mix the sprouts with 1 or 2 tablespoons of the vegetable sauce (seeand half the garlic. In a second bowl, do the same with the spinach. Set aside.

For the marinade: In a small bowl, mix together sugar, salt and vinegar. Set aside.

Marinate in enough of the vinegar mixture - a little more than half - to coat all the cucumber pieces. Slice the radishes into thin strips and marinate in the rest of the vinegar mixture.

Heat sesame oil in a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the beef, discarding marinade, and add beef to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef cooks through, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how thinly the pieces are sliced. Set aside and keep warm.

Into the same skillet, crack the eggs and fry each egg about 5 minutes on one side. Then flip over and fry for 30 seconds on the other.

Divide rice among serving dishes. Spoon beef, sprouts, spinach, cucumber and radish into their own discrete areas decoratively on top of the rice. Top each with the fried egg. If you wish, spoon some chili paste into each serving and stir the ingredients together. Or let each diner mix his or her own bowl.

Serves 4.

Teriyaki Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup rice wine (mirin- not rice wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon black or white pepper

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Vegetable Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sesame oil

1 teaspoon black or white pepper

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Makes 3/4 cup.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Brunswick Stew

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

I wasn't really excited about this challenge.  After months worth of soup for the winter the idea of making another one just didnt thrill me.  I am so glad that we did.  This is a very flavorful soup that makes a good size pot of stew that can last for a few days.  

Unfortunately for us, my husband dropped a bowl and it smashed into shards.  They were everywhere.  And not wanting to take a chance that there was glass in our soup, we had to discard it. Luckily for us we had already eaten our meal.  We so sadly got rid of the soup. We are still sad about it when we think of it. 

liberally adapted from “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

Serves about 12
1/4 lb slab bacon, rough diced
2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
1 4-5lb chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
1 pork hock
1 Tablespoon sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
2-3 quarts Chicken Broth (recipe below)
2 Bay leaves
2 large celery stalks
2lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
1 ½ cups carrots, chopped
3 ½ cups onions, chopped
2 cups fresh corn kernels
3 cups butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen
1 35oz can or 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
Tabasco sauce to taste

1- Season liberally both sides chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Roast chicken in oven until browned.  When cooled seperate out bone and skin from chicken meat. Add chicken meat to bowl with bacon and chiles.  Make broth with the bones and skin. Add in bay leaves, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Add pork hock as well. I did this step the day before.  You can skim off the excess fat the next morning after it has been chilled. Remove hock from soup and discard the skin and bone.
2-In a large stockpot or a Dutch Oven, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good about a minute tops. Remove and add to bacon.
3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, pork hock meat, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours.
4-   Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.

We had some nice crusty bread fresh out of the oven to go with the soup.  It was a winning combination.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Black Brownies

Have you noticed a ton of brownies all around foodie blogville?  One person makes them and then someone else sees them and has to make them and on like wildfire.  Well, I caught fire too.  But I did have an alterior motive as well.  I bought this dark cocoa last year, maybe even two years ago.  Aside from the pumpernickel-ish bread I made with it, I have not used it.   Dark cocoa tastes exactly like Oreo cookie chocolate or Hydrox chocolate wafers.  I have no doubt that it is what they use in their product.  So I didnt know what to do with it.  King Arthur to the rescue.  I made their dark cocoa version of Wicked Easy brownies.  The brownies are mostly fudgey.  The taste great and they work up in one bowl.  How can you beat a baked good that is done in one bowl?  I liked the idea so much that while I prepared the one I also put the ingredients to make another in a container so that the next time I want to make brownies it will mix up real quick. KA has never let me down.  One of the commenters on the KA site said they were too greasy.  I really didn't see that.  You know there is butter in it but I thought it was a real nice brownie that I would make over again.

Black Brownies
adapted from this recipe at King Arthur

1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup black cocoa + 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl, stir, then beat the mixture till smooth.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake the brownies in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they're just barely beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let them cool completely before cutting. Yield: about 2 dozen brownies.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wicked Easy Hot Pockets

I like to go blog hopping.  I look at someone's blog and click on one of their favorites or click on a link to a commenter and I discover new blogs.  It's addicting really.  Like garage sailing- you just never know whats around the bend.  Could be a great recipe or a cute craft with a great tutorial.  Recently, I found a blog called Get Off Your Butt and Bake that I found on Ingrid's blog list at Baseball Baking and Books.  It just so happened I found her blog on April Fool's Day.  The post was about how she was going to take the blog private.  I remember when La Dolce Vita went private... so sad and I miss Marianne and her wonderful stories and recipes.  I decided to peruse her entire site, looking for recipes that looked like they would be good for my family.

Boy, did I find a good one!  Her recipe is for Hot Pockets. They whip up so fast, they are so easy and in no time you can have hot pockets that beat the pants off the commercially available ones.  We so loved these that they will be a regular in this house both for savory and sweet applications.

Wicked Easy Hot Pockets
slightly adapted from this recipe

2 cups (125 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (one stick) cold butter
2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray or oil a baking sheet. In a food processor or a large bowl measure out flour.  Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt to the flour and combine thoroughly.  Slice the cold butter into the flour mixture. Cut in the butter to the flour mixture.If youare using a food processor do quick pulses until you have a coarse crumb texture.

Pour in the buttermilk.  In the processor let it whirl until the dough forms a ball. If doing the dough in a bowl stir until moistened and knead a few times to make a smooth dough.

Roll the dough to a thickness of 3/8-inch. Cut into circles or rectangles.  press out he dough a little with your finger tips around the edges because you will be doubling up the thickness there.  Place your meat, cheese, filling on the dough being careful not to get it near the edges.  If there is any filling on the edges it will be difficult to seal.  Once you have placed your filling on the dough, press another piece of dough the same size over top and press with a fork to seal the edges.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Turkey Pot Pies

I have been crafting.  Crafting, crafting and crafting.  I am finally working on/finishing a quilt that I started for my daughter a couple years ago.  Its so easy for time to fly in regards to a  project.  You set it down and whoa a year passes, then another, then another and before you know it you are looking at a very old project that you probably lost interest in years ago or is completely outdated.  At the beginning of this year, maybe even a few months before that, I made a decision to start using up what I had.  I am collecting things for a garage sale, stuff I dont use.  I am finishing projects.  I am in FULL declutter mode and am loving it.  I am happy to say that I have cleared a few things (crafts) and started a blog called "Craftication".

The dough on these pies is really good. I can see why Rebecca Rather sells out! Very delicious. It makes a lot. I made some for company and froze a few for quick meals.

All-Sold Out Turkey Pot Pies
adapted from Rebecca Rather’s, “The Pastry Queen”

Yield: 6 servings
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
8 ounces fresh green peas
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
Dash of hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces chilled cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 large egg

To Make The Filling: Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and potato; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bell pepper,  sauté about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the crushed red pepper and add salt and pepper to taste.
While the vegetables are sautéing, prepare the turkey, cutting into bite-size pieces. Place the carrots in a microwave-safe bowl and add enough water to cover. Cover the dish and microwave on high power about 10 minutes, until the carrots are crisp-tender. Drain thoroughly. Stir the carrots, peas, and chicken into the vegetable mixture. Set the filling aside.

To Make The Sauce: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Add the cream, hot pepper sauce, and salt and white pepper to taste. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken filling and stir to combine. Fill individual 1 1/4-cup capacity oven-safe bowls three-quarters of the way to the top with the creamed chicken filling.

To Make The Crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the butter into 16 pieces. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt, and white pepper. Continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball.

Set the dough on a flat surface dusted with flour. I used my cereal bags. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Measure the diameter of the pot pie bowls- I used ramekins- and cut out dough rounds that are 1 1/2 inches larger in diameter. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Lay the dough rounds on top of the pot pies, making sure the dough hangs evenly over each bowl. Brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg. Bake the pies for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Swirled Babka

For Easter I decided to try a new Babka bread in addition to the one I always do (can find that here). It is done a little differently than my usual. You make the dough and then roll the raisins in the dough. So it's almost like a swirled raisin bread. Okay, 'like'? It is a swirled raisin bread. It is delicious. It is almost like a cake but it is a lot like bread as well. I highly recommend it.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirled Babka

1 pkg. dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons
4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 lb. butter
1 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup raisins
3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 stick melted butter

Dissolve yeast in warm water and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Mix flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter until the size of small peas. Add warm milk and beaten eggs to dry ingredients and mix well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Roll out into oblong shape on floured board about 12 x 15 inches. Wet dough with melted butter (1/2 stick). Sprinkle most of the filling mixture over the dough, reserving a little for the top.

Roll tightly, as for a jelly roll and cut into 8 parts. Place cut side up in a greased 1 inch tube pan. Sprinkle rest of cinnamon mixture on top. Let rise about 1 hour in warm place. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Loosen bottom of pan with spatula-remove when cool.

Bench Notes:
When it comes to baking this, I highly recommend placing it in a tube pan or an angel food cake pan.  If you have neither I think the next best thing would be to shape it in a round and place it on a baking sheet.  The trick is to make sure it cooks on the inside.  It is quite thick so having the center open allows the heat to go up through the middle.  It really would be best to take the temperature of this bread before removing it from the oven (about 190°F to 200°F).  If you find that your internal temperature is below what it should be and the top is browning way too fast then I would definitely tent it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

I just finished my Wilton II course.  It is mostly about making flowers.  We used royal icing which I like so much better than the shortening buttercream that we usually use.  I have used this class and the last class to test out different cake recipes.  One of them- a mathca cake- I totally ditched putting on the blog because it was horrible.  I would much rather have my matcha coconut cake.  I dont think I like matcha staight up.  I much prefer it with coconut or chocolate. 

This cake here was the best out of all the cakes I made for this class and the last class.  This is a yellow cake that just has the best flavor.  It is a sturdy dense cake but still manages to be fluffy.  It would be amazing with raspberry or apricot smeared on it along with some REAL butter buttercream!  Oh my.  I will so be making this one again.  It is my new 'go to' yellow cake!

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake
adapted from this book below.

3 3/4 cups cake flour
2  cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray pans with cooking spray or butter and flour. I used the Wilton oval pans and 9" round.

2. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk until well blended. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition.

4. Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Let cakes sit for about ten minutes then turn the layers out onto wire racks by placing a rack on top of a pan, inverting it, and lifting off the pan. Flip them back over so the domed side is up onto another wire rack.  Let cool completely.  At this point you can freeze the cakes to make them easier to frost and handle.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter.

And if you do not celebrate Easter- peace and grace to you today and always. 

One of the most important parts of any Holiday is to be with family enjoying good food and laughing as much as you can.

Friday, April 2, 2010


We called my Grandmother (the Italian one), Nonni (pronounced by us, nah-nee). This is one of her soups that I distinctly remember when I was growing up. This and pastina were the number ones. Really, I couldn't stand this soup when I was a kid. Something about the pepperoni just gave it this flavor that turned me right off. Now, being older and wiser (at least I'd like to think so), I love it. It's really a good for your soul kind of soup.

Nonni's Minestra

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 pound escarole, washed thoroughly, chopped and cooked seperately if bitter
1 can of canneloni beans
2 quarts chicken broth
2 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 cups diced potatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped pepperoni (peel outside skin off the pepperoni) or cooked sausage

Saute onion in olive oil and heat until onion is transluscent. Add garlic, cook one minute more.  Add broth, beans, pepperoni, escarole and potatoes, cover and simmer until potatoes have tenderized. When the potatoes are tender it's ready to serve.  The flavor doubles overnight.

Bench Notes:
If you don't want a lot of grease from the pepperoni you can saute it in a frying pan and drain, then add to the soup. It also makes it more tasty.
This soup is delicious without any meat really.