Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chocolate Cake Fixings

I've been making my mom's chocolate cake recipe for years.  I don't believe the recipe is here, but I know exactly where it is, so I never have a hard time finding it to making it.

However, as time as gone by, I've played with the icing and filling.  Since I don't make cakes on a regular basis (and even less now that I am teaching), I wanted to put my filling/frosting options in the same place.  This will prevent me leafing carefully through my binder of recipes that I've gleamed from online, cooking magazines, and who knows where else.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Filling (for between chocolate cake layers)
(for a three layer cake)
from Food and Wine magazine

1 t unflavored gelatin
1 T water
1 c chilled heavy cream
1/4 c coffee or coffee liqueur
4 large egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until softened.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl (this is not the bowl you will end up using for the filling), use a handheld mixer to whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Refrigerate until chilled or until you ready for it. (at least 10 minutes)

In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the coffee liqueur until hot.  Stir in the softened gelatin until it is dissolved.

In a second medium bowl (this bowl will contain the finished mousse), beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until a ribbon forms (it should be pale and thickened), about 5 minutes.  While beating the yolks, gradually add the gelatin mixture.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Beat in the melted, cooled chocolate.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream in 2 additions.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.

Peanut Butter Frosting
(enough for 1 1/2 doz cupcakes or the filling of a three layer cake)
from Ina Garten

1 c confectioners sugar
1 c creamy peanut butter
5 T butter, at room temperature
3/4 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1/3 c heavy cream

Put the confectioners sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in a mixing bowl and beat on medium-low speed using an electric mixture until creamy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Long Lost Brussels Sprouts Salad

Years ago I used to make this recipe.  Repeatedly.  I loved this recipe and it reminded how versatile the maligned, to frequently overcooked brussels sprout was.  Then the recipe was gone.

A year had passed since I made it and I could not remember where the recipe was located.  I scoured by cookbooks and my frequently used food blogs.  I goggled it countless times to no avail.  The recipe I remembered had disappeared.

On a whim yesterday, I goggled brussels sprouts salad.  I remembered it was simple, had nuts, and cheese in it.  That was all.

There it was--on the second page of my goggle search my missing recipe, gone for five years, at least, waited for me.  I recognized the blog name--not one I frequented, but one I had found a few good recipes from.

I do not want to lose this recipe another five years.  It's too good.  It's too simple.  I made this in the fifteen it took me to sear my kofta.

Long Lost Brussels Sprouts Salad
serves 4- 8, depending on how much people love brussels sprouts

1 stalk of brussels sprouts (approximately 24 or maybe a lb), shredded (I use my food processor blade)
1/2 c Parmesan, grated (the good stuff here, folks.  As in the stuff that comes in a wedge, not in a can)
1 c toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
9 T olive oil (again, the good stuff)
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 t Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the shredded Brussels sprouts in a bowl with the grated cheese and toasted walnuts.  In a small jar, vigorously shake the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper.  Pour dressing over the salad and toss to coat all the Brussels sprouts.  If you feel like the salad needs more dressing, make more dressing and coat to the desired amount.

Will keep a day or two max, but it really will be eaten before then.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Winter Veggie Tempura

I discovered a problem with my current cooking system.  Due to my working girl schedule these days, I no longer spend as much time looking through cookbooks as I once did.  I find myself making the same meals over and over--mostly just using this blog and my pinterest boards for menu planning.

Thus, I am back to adding some new recipes to the blog, in hopes of mixing up the menu planning a bit.

Of course, my cooking boyfriend, Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for veggie tempura is my return to blogging recipe.  It's what's for supper tonight.

Winter Veggie Tempura
adapted a bit from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Dipping Sauce
6 cardamom pods
grated zest and juice of 4 limes (about 1/3 c lime juice)
1 fresh green chile (optional)
2 3/4 c cilantro, leaves and tender, thin stalks
1 T sugar
4 T sunflower oil
1/2 t salt
2 T water

approximately 2 3/4 lb winter veggies:  our favorites are:

  1. leeks, white part sliced 1/4" thick
  2. sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
  3. broccoli, divided into medium florets (cauliflower would be good too)
  4. carrots, peeled and cut into 3/8" sticks
1/2 c cornstarch (plus possibly some extra)
1/2 c self rising flour (to make use 1/2 c regular plus a fat 1/2 t baking powder and small pinch of salt)
3/4 c seltzer or sparkling water
2 t grapeseed oil
3 C sunflower oil (for frying)

cooked udon noodles

To make the sauce, break the cardamom pods using the flat side of large, heavy knife.  Discard the pods and put the seeds in a food processor.  Add the remaining dipping sauce ingredients and blitz to get a smooth, runny sauce (you could also create the sauce using an immersion blender).

Mix the 1/2 c cornstarch, flour, seltzer, and grapeseed oil, along with 1/4 t salt in a bowl.  Whisk well to get a smooth runny mix.  On a dinner plate, sprinkle some additional cornstarch for coating the veggies.  

Pour the 3 c sunflower into a heavy saucepan or black skillet (I fry everything in my black skillet).  Place over high heat until oil is hot and then reduce heat to medium.    If you are unsure if the oil is hot enough, test the temperature using a candy thermometer.  The thermometer should register between 325-375 degrees.  

Toss each vegetable in the cornstarch.  Shake to remove any excess cornstarch and then dip into seltzer water batter.  Shake gently and then carefully ease the veggies into the oil (a few pieces of at a time--don't overcrowd the pan).  As the veggies fry, gently turn them over to fry evenly.  Leeks will take only about a minute.  Sweet potatoes would take 2 or more minutes.  Once they are cooked transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

Serve on rice or over udon noodles (our favorite).  Steamed veggies on the side are also a good counter balance to the tempura veggies as well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Braised Lamb Shanks

My summer cookbook purge continues.

This recipe is Maundy Thursday/Passover lamb meal.  In our good years, we celebrate a Christian Seder on Maundy Thursday.  The main course is lamb.  My notes in the cookbook?  "Best lamb I've made."  Depending on the year, all my kids will eat this.

Makes 4 - 6 servings

Braised Lamb Shanks
adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker

4 - 5 lbs lamb shanks, trimmed of fat
3 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t cumin
1/2 c beef stock, chicken stock, or water
1/4 c dry white wine (optional, if don't use, increase water by 1/4 c)

Optional sweet pepper garnish (I've done this before, but I've also omitted it)
1 yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 T parsley, coarsely chopped
1 c crumbled feta cheese

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 T of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat  Sear the shanks, in batches of necessary to prevent overcrowding, when the oil is hot, until golden brown on all sides.  Transfer to a plate.

Pour most excess fat from the pan and heat again.  Add the onion, celery, bay leaves, oregano, cumin, and saute until vegetables are soft and golden, about 8 - 10minutes.  Pour the stock and wine into the pan and stir to dislodge any yummy browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and place the lamb shanks on top.  Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours (my slow cooker cooks fast on low. I only cook this for 5 hours on low.  Know thy slow cooker and cook accordingly).  The meat should be very tender.

If desired, to finish, heat a skillet over medium heat and warm 1 T olive oil.  Add the bell peppers and salute until just beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

To serve, top with sautéed bell peppers (or if not using bell peppers, just with top with the fresh chopped parsley) and a sprinkle of feta.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Easy One Pan Roast Chicken and Stuffing

Sometimes, a holiday comes around and you just don't want to make an entire turkey and dressing.  A whole turkey is a big deal and feeds a large crowd, so the years it is just may family and my in-laws for Christmas, I make this dish instead.  It feels like turkey and dressing, but it is easier and feeds more small group I am cooking for better than a 12 lb turkey.

Start the bread cubes and crumbs a day or two before you want to serve this, just like you would with regular dressing.  If your family likes more dark or white meat, just adjust the chicken parts you want accordingly.

Serves 8 - 10

Easy One Pan Roast Chicken and Stuffing
adapted from Perfect One-Dish Dinner by Pam Anderson

10 -12 c 1/2" bread cubes (from a nice crusty French or Italian loaf if possible), dried overnight
2 c finely ground bread crumbs, dried overnight
1 1/2 T dried basil
1 1/2 T dried oregano
1 T salt
1 T black pepper
2 t fennel seeds
1 1/2 t orange zest
2 T olive oil
4 chicken leg quarters (with bones and skin included)
2 - 4 chicken breasts (with bones and skin), halved cross wise (this takes a little force!)
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 medium onions, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 c golden raisins (regular raisins are ok too, as well as dried apricots)
1/2 c parsley, minced
2 eggs
1 qt chicken stock

Mix together 1/2 t basil, 1/2 t oregano, 1 T salt, 2 t pepper, fennel, orange zest, and olive oil in small bowl.  Smear over each piece of chicken.  Heat a large heavy roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat.  (If you are not sure about doing this to your roasting pan, do these stove stop steps in a large skillet, be sure to scoop all skillet juices into the pan as well before roasting the chicken).  Heat a bit of olive oil in the roasting pan and sear chicken, skin side down at first, until chicken is nicely browned on both sides, about 8 - 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the sausage in pan until it is no longer pink.  Add onions and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, about 8 - 10 minutes.  In large bowl, mix together bread cubes, bread crumbs, sausage mixture, raisins, parsley, and remaining oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.  Whisk eggs in a separate bowl and then add chicken stock, whisking it with the eggs.  Pour over bread cubes and sausage mixture.  Toss to coat and let stand for 10 minutes to let liquid absorb.  If mixture looks dry, add extra chicken stock or milk.

Dump bread cube mixture into roasting pan.  Top with chicken, skin side up and bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 45 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Shortcut Choucroute

There's about to be an onslaught of new recipes.  I'm cleaning out my cookbooks (7 cookbooks will be leaving my house in the next couple of weeks).  Thus, in the next couple of weeks I need to copy down the handful of recipes from each cookbook that I actually make.

First up, a hearty, winter, one-pot meal. This is not a meal I typically make because of the massive amount of meat it calls for.  However, for serving a crowd of meat eaters easily, this one is great.

This serves 8 - 10, depending on how much meat people eat.  To make it serve more, just add more potatoes.

Shortcut Choucroute
adapted from Perfect One-Dish Dinners by Pam Anderson

2 T olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 crisp, green apples, cored and chopped
4 thin slices prosciutto
10 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
2 lbs sauerkraut, drained
1 - 2 c dry white wine (If using less wine, increase chicken stock)
1 qt chicken stock
1 lb bratwurst, cut diagonally into 8 pieces
2 lbs smoked pork chops or ham (I used ham), cut into 8 pieces
1 lb kielbasa, cut into 8 pieces
8 - 12 small red (new) potatoes, halved

Heat oil in a large heavy roasting pan set over two burners on medium high heat.  Add onions, apples, and prosciutto and cook until tender and golden brown 5 - 10 minutes (If you don't want your roasting pan on the burners, do this in a large skillet).  Add cloves, bay leaves, and sauerkraut, and cook for a few minutes to blend flavors and heat sauerkraut.  Add wine, chicken broth (if doing this in a skillet first, bring to a boil at this point, then transfer to a roasting pan and add meat), and meat.  Bring to a boil, cover tightly with foil, and transfer to a preheated 350 degrees oven.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover carefully, add potatoes, and cook an additional 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Green Chorizo, Kale and Potato Tacos

The combination of a CSA box and the need for fast or make ahead meals causes me to branch out to recipes I may not normally try.  This is one of those.  Tacos with kale?  What the what?  We loved this recipe!

I varied greatly from the original recipe, mostly because I was supposed to let the homemade chorizo sit over night for flavors to combine.  I kinda missed reading that part and marking it appropriately on my weekly menu.  When I was prepping my supper ingredients before swim practice, I looked over the recipe and read refrigerate over night.  Oops.  For a variety of reasons, I combined the first four steps which would have taken substantial time into one short, much quicker step.

We still loved the recipe!

I'm contemplating doing a Taco night when it's my night to cook at our extended family's beach week (unless someone else wants to cook--then I'm completely fine with giving up my taco night plans!).  This would be on the menu, it's that good.  It comes together rather quickly when you skip and combine steps like I did.  Or, you could actually refrigerate the chorizo over night and have a much more intensely flavored sausage.

Serves 4 - 6

Green Chorizo, Kale, and Potato Tacos
adapted from Food and Wine magazine

1/8 t whole black peppercorns
1/8 t whole coriander seeds
1/8 t dried oregano
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 clove
2 unpeeled garlic cloves
1 small poblano chile (optional)
1 c lightly packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 T red wine vinegar
3/4 lb ground pork

1 lb small potatoes, sliced crosswise and cut into 1/2" rounds
1/4 c olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb kale, stems discarded and leaves removed
12 warm corn tortillas
crumbled queso fresco
sour cream

To make the chorizo:  in a small skillet toast the peppercorns, coriander seeds, oregano, bay leaf, and clove over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to spice grinder and finely grind them.  In the same skillet, roast the garlic cloves over high heat, turning until tender and charred in spots, about 10 minutes.  Cook, then peel.  Finely grind the garlic in the spice grinder (if your spice grinder will handle such things).  If you are using the poblano (we didn't because the kids don't like spice), char all over, either using a gas flame, broiler, or gas grill.  Place in a bowl and cover tightly.  Let sit for 10 minutes, then peel, stem and side the chile.  Finely chop.  Combine poblano, garlic, spices, parsley, red wine vinegar, 1 1/2 t salt, and ground pork.  If you are on top things, tightly cover pork and refrigerate over night.  If you haven't read the recipe through until right now, skip the refrigeration part and continue on.

Toss the potatoes with 1 T olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 20 - 30 minutes, or until golden and tender, turning potatoes once.  While the potatoes roast, heat 3 T olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and pork mixture  and cook over medium high heat until meat starts to brown, breaking up large clumps with a wooden spoon.  Add the kale and toss until it fits nicely into the pan (because it's wilted).  Add one cup of water.  Cook over medium low heat until the kale the is tender and the chorizo is cooked, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Fold in the potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve:  Spoon some of the kale, chorizo, and potato mixture into the center of a warm corn tortilla.  Top with a sprinkle of queso fresco, sour cream, and salsa as desired.  Roll up and eat.