Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recipe Round Up

I really love belonging to cooking groups, but I don't like posting about foods that have no recipes to go with them, since this is a cooking blog. To that end I started doing a monthly roundup of recipes I made for Tuesday's with Dorie and French Fridays with Dorie. Well, this month I decide to combine both of the monthly round ups into one big round up. The recipes for Tuesday's with Dorie can be found on the weekly host's blog, to which I will include a link, but for French Friday's there is no host, so if it is a recipe that intrigues you send me an e-mail and I will give you more information.

Our Tuesday's with Dorie recipes were the Citrus Currant Sunshine Muffins and the Chocolate Pots de Creme.

Lauryn of Bella Baker chose Citrus Currant Sunshine Muffins. These muffins had a big citrus taste, with a coarse almost chewy texture. We made these three different ways; some plain, some with raisin, and a few with craisins. Everyone liked the craisin version the best. The dried cranberries added a nice sweet/tart taste to an otherwise pretty plain muffin. The raisins were good, adding sweetness, but lacking the balance of the semi-tart craisins.

 Christine of Black Cat Cooking  chose Chocolate Pots de Creme.
  This was an intensely chocolate pudding. Dorie had you cook and cool it in a water bath covered with plastic wrap, but I really don't think this improve the texture of this pudding, and next time I would skip this step. We would make this again for the deep, rich chocolate flavor. As a family we don't usually love chocolate flavored desserts because they tend to be too sweet or completely lacking chocolate taste, but this silky smooth pudding and Dorie's chocolate ice cream have both been winners, so she is definitely on to something with her chocolate treats!

The French Friday recipes we made this month were the salted butter break-ups. The pictures in the book were so fabulous and we were most excited about this recipe, but unfortunately, this was the most disappointing. It was really nothing more than a giant sugar cookie, brushed with egg wash for color. It was fun but nothing special. We were hoping the salt would come through, and even used the higher suggested amount, but it was pretty boring. We even tried dipping pieces in melted chocolate, and when that doesn't save a recipe, you know that it is something you probably won't make again.

Scallops with caramel orange sauce was a quick and tasty way to prepare scallops. Although caramel sounds like s dessert item, this sauce had a nice almost burnt taste that paired nicely with the sweet oranges, and was perfect over mildly sweet scallops. This is definitely a recipe that we will make again. It will be a nice change from a quick pasta or chicken dish on our busy school nights.

Brown butter, dried figs, raisins, pistachios, chives, almonds, Parmesan cheese and orange zest

And finally, the real star of this month's recipes was the Beggar's Linguine. Mimi Jr. and I made this for lunch one day because we were pretty sure that the other Mimi's weren't going to go for this fruity pasta. We even had our doubts as we were putting it together and taking our first few bites. We were really close to just skipping it, but figured that the whole point of the group was to try new things so we went for it. The most surprising thing was that with each bite we liked this strange pasta dish more and more. Somehow, the flavors all come together to create a wonderfully savory pasta that is not the sweet dish we had expected it to be based on the ingredients.What we didn't like were the small bits of fruit and nuts with the long strands of pasta. Mimi Jr. suggested that the fruit and nuts would be good with orzo or couscous as everything would be more similar in size and one forkful could get a little of everything. Since I had all the ingredients we made it the following day with couscous. I used about half the amount of butter, and it was perfect. We loved it at room temperature and think it would also be good served chilled as a salad or a side dish with some well seasoned grilled meats.

This month was full of surprises, with some new favorites, and some disappointments. We are excited to see what April's recipes will bring to the table.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

DB: Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

We had a choice of two version of the recipe- Jamie's or Ria's. We chose Jamie's version filled with cinnamon sugar, chopped nuts, and chopped chocolate. This soft, moist, slightly sweet coffee cake was really more of a bread than a cake. As with most yeast breads, they are best the day they are baked, so we made half the recipe that is below.

Mr. Mimi declared that he doesn't like chocolate in his breakfast foods and suggested that next time we fill the bread with raspberry jam instead of the chocolate and nuts. I think he may be on to something.

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn't matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Prepare the dough:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.
3. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
4.Place the dough in a lightly greased  bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

In a clean mixing bowl  beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling ingredients  evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.  Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. I have a convection oven so I skipped this step. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. For a soft crust rub the crust with butter before cooling. Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

For Ria's version, using saffron and garam marsala visit the Daring Baker's web site

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Orange Cornmeal Cake

Nothing is more satisfying than stepping into the garden, picking some produce, bringing it into the kitchen, and transforming it into something for our family. So much of what we grow we eat as is, like the fat, juicy peaches we pick and eat right away as we stand looking for another to pluck, and the lettuce that becomes a delicious simple salad for lunch.

However, we almost have more citrus than we know what to do with. Besides the tangerine and the lime trees, we have 2 orange, 2 lemon and a grapefruit tree. We do have oranges almost year round, although by late fall the pickings can be pretty slim.

Since they are plentiful now we have been trying out pretty much anything that calls for oranges. This recipe is from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, Fresh Flavor Fast. It has some unusaul ingredients for a cake, but we loved the way that the olive oil kept it moist, and complemented the bright flavors of the sweet citrus. The cake is not too sweet, and has a hearty texture from the cornmeal (we used polenta, a coarse cornmeal). It is all topped off with a crunchy, sugar crust that really brings the whole thing together. Even in the fall when our oranges are not so plentiful, we would definitely use some for this cake.

Orange Cornmeal Cake
Martha Stewart- Every Day Food, Fresh Flavor Fast
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
zest of one orange
2 eggs
1 cup suagr, 1/3 cup for topping
1/2 cup dry white wine or orange juice.

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Oil an 8 inch round cake pan with additional olive oil.
2. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
3. Rub orange zest into the sugar and whisk in the oil, eggs, and wine until smooth.  Add flour mixture and whisk to combine.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with 1/3 cup of sugar.  Bake until cake begins to pull away from the sides of pan and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.
5. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Invert cake on to a plate and reinvert on to a wire rack and cool completely.

Serve with fresh orange segments.
printable recipe

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lime Cheese Cake

We all love cheesecake at our house. In fact, cheesecake was our wedding cake when Mr. Mimi and I tied the knot more than 25 years ago. Back in the day, bakeries were not making wedding cheesecake, so I made the layers and my talented sister decorated the cake. Even now, after all those years, our love (for cheesecake) has not diminished. If you looking for a bit o' green for your St. Patrick's Day menu, this would be the perfect way to end the meal. 

This cheesecake has three components- the crust, the cake itself, and the lime curd. It is light, sweet and creamy, and the lime curd on top gives a nice, citrusy tang. The basic recipe for this cheesecake is from Cook's Illustrated, but I made a few changes and my version appears below. We liked that it was a smooth and creamy filling, but it was still light, instead of being heavy and dense. I started with a shortbread crust but you could easily use graham crackers, vanilla wafers or your favorite butter cookie for the crust.

Lime Cheese Cake
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
pinch of salt

Mix together, in a food processor until crumbly and press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. When cool, wrap the outside of the pan in aluminum foil.  It needs to be water tight so make sure the foil comes up over the top edge of the pan. If you have to use more than one piece of foil, duck tape works great to seal the over lap.I simply wrap a piece of duck tape around the entire outside of the pan that way water can not seep in between the pieces of foil.

1 1/2 lb (24oz) cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
4 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Rub the lime zest in to the sugar until well incorporated. In the bowl of a mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese to smooth out.  With mixer running, gradually add sugar and beat until completely smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lime juice, vanilla, and salt, mix to incorporate.  Add the cream and mix until incorporated. Pour into prepared crust. Place a larger pan (like a roasting pan) that will hold your cheesecake pan on the middle rack of the oven. Place cheesecake pan in the larger pan and fill larger pan with  hot water, coming half way up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake in 325 degree oven for about 1 hour.  Temperature in the center of the cake should be  150 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Turn oven off and let cheesecake remain in the oven, with the door ajar for 1 hour. Remove pan from water bath and foil covering and allow to cool on a wire rack, at room temperature for about 2 hours.  While cheesecake is baking make lime curd.

Lime Curd:
1/3 cup lime juice*
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of salt

Heat lime juice in the microwave or in a small pan over medium heat until hot. In a non reactive sauce pan whisk eggs and sugar until light and lemon colored.  Whisking constantly, slowly add the hot lime juice to the eggs. Place pan over medium heat and cook stirring continuously until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon (170 degrees). Remove from heat and stir in cold butter, mix until incorporated; stir in cream, vanilla and salt. Pour curd through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap refrigerate until needed.

*You can easily change this to another flavor, like lemon or orange, by using that type of juice.
When cheesecake is cooled and still in the pan, spread lime curd evenly on the top of the cake. Cover pan tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Run a butter knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake, remove sides of the pan and serve.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Double Chocolate Tangerine Mousse Cake

I had to share this recipe before the tangerine season is over. I found it in a December Bon Appetit many years ago, but I can't remember what year. It is a light and creamy white chocolate and tangerine mousse layered over a flourless dark chocolate cake. I usually shy away from mousses that use gelatin, because if you use just a tad too much they loose their soft creamy texture and feel rubbery, like jello. But this has just the right amount to help the mousse to hold its shape when unmolded from the pan, and it still has a smooth, light texture. I love the orange and chocolate combination, and the super sweet, home grown tangerines from our yard make this a winning recipe. 

Double Chocolate Tangerine Mousse Cake

via Bon Appetit
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
• 9 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 5 large eggs
• 1/2 cup ground toasted nuts: hazelnuts or almonds

• 3 cups strained fresh tangerine or orange juice
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 14 ounces imported white chocolate (such as Callebaut or Lindt), chopped
• 6 tablespoons sour cream
• 2 cups chilled whipping cream

Garnish: grated white chocolate and candied tangerines

For Cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom with parchment. Butter parchment. Dust pan with flour. Melt butter and chocolate in heavy large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs and ground nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with very moist crumbs attached, about 45 minutes. Cool completely on rack (cake will fall and crack).

Release cake pan sides. Turn out cake onto work surface. Peel off parchment. Cut off outer 1/2-inch edge of cake. Clean cake pan. Reattach cake pan sides; brush sides of pan with vegetable oil. Set cake in center of pan (there will be space around cake that will be filled in with mousse). Refrigerate cake.

For Mousse:
Boil tangerine juice and sugar in heavy large saucepan until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over lemon juice in small bowl. Let stand 10 minutes to soften.
Add gelatin mixture to tangerine juice mixture and stir to dissolve. Add 14 ounces white chocolate and whisk over low heat just until melted. Whisk in sour cream. Pour into large bowl. Chill mixture until cool and thickened but not set, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Beat chilled whipping cream to stiff peaks. Fold into white chocolate mixture. Pour mousse over cake in pan, covering top and sides completely. Refrigerate cake overnight.
 Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Place cake on platter. Garnish as desired.

To candy tangerines:
2-3 tangerines
powdered egg white or meringue powder
granulated sugar

Peel and remove as much of the white membranes as possible from the tangerines, separate into segments. Whisk together 1 tablespoon meringue powder or powdered egg white with 2 tablespoons water.
Dip tangerine segments in meringue mixture wipe excess and roll in granulated sugar put on a wire rack to dry.

printable recipe

Friday, March 4, 2011

FFWD - February Roundup

 Hard to believe that it is March already and time for our roundup of February's French Fridays with Dorie recipes. Below are the recipes that made it to our table. All were easy, delicious recipes that I would make again.
basque potato tortilla

Simply flavored with olive oil and onions, and served with a salad, this made a fantastic light dinner. I did mine a little different than Dorie, since I have a friend from Spain and her tortilla is surperb, I followed her directions.  I sliced the potatoes instead of cubing them, and cooked them very slowly in olive oil. If you want that smooth creamy texture this is not a process that can be rushed, but it is definitely worth the time.

short ribs in red wine and port

The brasied shot ribs were easy to make and delicious. I used boneless short ribs because that is what I had,  but what makes this dish a stand out is the gremolata of orange peel, parsley and garlic. Don't be tempted to skip this step!

orange-almond tart

Last we made the almond orange tart. Dorie's flakey, good for almost everything crust is perfect for the almond pastry filling. While the oranges were good with the almonds, we all felt that stone fruit would be a better choice for this tart and are waiting for our peaches and nectarines to be ripe so we can make it again.

We are looking forward to the March recipes and hope to like them as much as we did these recipes!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Round Up Week Part Two:TWD

I've been struggling a little with how to organize this  blog. Since the Daring Bakers always post the last part of the month, I've decided to make that date the start of the monthly roundups. Part two of the roundup is Tuesdays with Dorie.  This month we had more tasty recipes and we managed to make them all.

First Christine of Happy Tummy chose Great Grains Muffins
These were a nice change from the usual blueberry muffin. We liked the mild sweetness from the corn and raisins, as well as the number of options you have for creative mix-ins. These are something we would make again when we are feeling like a healthy version of the breakfast treat.

 – Sharon from Simply Southern chose Bourbon Bread Pudding .
Bread Pudding is one of those warm, comforting desserts that is best at the end of a cold, rainy day, and since that is exactly the weather we've had, we were all looking forward to this. Unfortunately, it was a little bit of a let down. We added some chocolate chips and raisins before baking, and without those, it would have been way too bland. I also made a brown sugar-bourbon sauce to drizzle on top, and that is what took this recipe from boring to tasty.

 – Caroline and Claire of Bake With Us chose Chocolate Oatmeal Drops
This was the surprise recipe of the month. Everyone really liked these. They were a good combination of chocolate and oats, with just the right amount of cinnamon. They had an almost brownie-like texture, without being too heavy. We even made a second batch to send back to school with Mini Me after she came home for a quick weekend visit.

 Mike of Living Out West chose Toasted Almond Scones
I have been wanting to try these for a long time. Fresh out of the oven, these were really good. However, after that, they were just ok. We all really love the flaky, orange zest infused scones I usually make, and felt that these just didn't have the almond flavor we were looking for. For a scone recipe with an egg, these still had a nice texture, as some I have made have turned out rubbery or too dense. I would make these again, and maybe try a few things to increase the almond flavor.