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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Spiced Honey Chicken

So this meal is not spicy!  It's tempered by the honey glaze, and  there's not a lot of heat to the spices in it.  There's definitely a savory-sweet pair, but spice?  No.  I adore it, and it goes perfectly with the coconut rice.  Everyone needs an excuse to eat more coconut rice.  Were I not running to the grocery store to get the ingredients for this, I probably would have topped it with some finely diced scallions.  Ah, well, that's what next time is for!  This is also an easy weeknight meal-- no tough prep!

Spiced Honey Chicken
Adapted from Our Best Bites

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2lbs
2 tsp vegetable oil

2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder

1/2 Cup Honey
1 Tbsp Cider Vinegar

Heat your grill to medium.

Whisk together the ingredients for the rub.  Place the rub in a shallow dish and dredge the chicken in it until all the surfaces of the the chicken are covered.  Lightly spray the chicken with oil (use a mister)  or cooking spray.

Combine the honey and cider vinegar.  My honey is room temperature; if you store it in the fridge you may have to heat it to soften it.  Reserve about 2 tablespoons.

Grill for  about 4-5 minutes, flip, grill 4-5 minutes more, then brush both sides with the honey glaze, and cook for 1 minute more.

Place on a serving plate and drizzle honey glaze over it.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Barbeque chicken Kebabs

Just read the recipe.  Chicken, tossed in bacon?  How could it be anything but delicious?  Add to this a sweet easy barbecue sauce, and you have got a major winner.

The bacon adds a nice depth of flavor.  I found myself wishing I had tossed in twice as much bacon, although I think that would be too much.  This is another one that comes together really quick for weeknight eating.  It pairs great with the coconut rice.

Barbecued Chicken Kabobs
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, via Elly Says Opa

1 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1″ cubes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/16 tsp. cayenne pepper ("pinch")
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces


1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup  molasses
2 Tbsp. grated onion
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
hot sauce, to taste

Mix the paprikas, salt, sugar, and cayenne in a small  bowl.  Process the bacon in a small food processor, until a smooth paste forms, about 30-45 seconds, scraping down the bowl 1-2 times during processing.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and then toss the chicken with the bacon and spice mixture. Thread the meat onto skewers.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reached a ketchup-like consistency and has reduced to 1 cup, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside 1/2 cup of the sauce to serve with the cooked chicken.

Place the kababs over medium heat and grill, covered, turning one-quarter of a turn every 2 minutes or so, until well browned and slightly charred, 8 to 10 minutes.
Brush the top surface of the kebabs with about 1/4 cup sauce. Flip and cook until the sauce is browned in spots, about 1-2 minutes.  Flip again and brush with remaining 1/4 cup sauce. Continue cooking until browned in spots and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
Remove from grill and allow to rest 5 minutes.  Serve with the barbecue sauce.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Braciole, revisited

We had never had Braciole, but I know it's an italian classic.  I can't tell you how this shakes out next to other recipes, but I'm sure it would stand up well.
It makes me laugh because I never knew what braciole actually was.   My grandmother and mother always used to serve steak and spaghetti.  I never knew where it came from, but it must be from braciole.  The tomato sauce and steak pairing is really good.   The meat gets so tender, it just falls apart. 

Adapted from Jeff Mauro

1 flank steak (2 lbs)
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
3/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Olive oil, as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (if you are a spice wimp, may I suggest 1/8 tsp?)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzanos

Preheat oven to 350F.

For the steak: Gently pound the steak to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs, pecorino, parsley and garlic onto the meat. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the meat, or mix 5 tablespoons olive oil with bread crumbs prior to sprinkling, which I prefer. Roll the meat with the grain and tie with butcher's twine to secure the roll. Sprinkle the outside of the roll generously with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven over high heat, add 1/4 cup olive oil and sear the beef on all sides until golden brown. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Turn down the heat to medium and add 3 tablespoons olive oil, the onions, garlic, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper. Sweat until translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring to avoid burning. Add the tomato paste and cook 3 more minutes. Then deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping all the fond from the bottom, and add the crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and add the meat back to the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Taste and season again with salt and pepper, if necessary. Remove the meat from the pot, cut the twine and slice against the grain into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices.  Serve with the tomato sauce.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

This is kind of a lousy photo.  The burgers are anything but lousy!  You can use chicken breast (ground), but regular chicken will be a little more flavorful.  These are great for weeknights, because you can make the patties the night before and then just grill them.  It's amazing how flavorful these are, and you have pretty much everything in your pantry.  These are a hit with the whole family.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers
Adapted From Elly Says Opa via Annie's Eats

For the burgers:
1 lb. ground chicken
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
3 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely diced
Salt and pepper

For serving:
Pasta sauce (optional)
Mozzarella or provolone cheese (sliced or shredded)
Sautéed mushrooms (optional)
4 hamburger buns

In a medium bowl combine all of the ingredients for the burgers.  Mix well until thoroughly combined.  Form the mixture into 4 patties, and make them really flat.  This is chicken, people.  No medium rare.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.

Cook the burgers on an outdoor grill or grill pan. Grill the burgers for 4-6 minutes on one side, then flip and grill for 4-6 more minutes on the other side until fully browned and cooked through.  Remove from the oven, top each burger with pasta sauce and cheese, if desired.  Place under the broiler for 30-60 seconds until the cheese is melted.  Top with sautéed mushrooms if desired, and serve on toasted hamburger buns.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baked Oven fries

Actual white potatoes?  In my house?  I had to make this recipe.  As usual, cooks illustrated's method sounds strange, but they never fail.  They steam the potatoes to keep them moist and soft, then finish them to a crisp.  Do not skip any of the steps- there is always a reason cooks illustrated asks you to do things!

They are fantastic.  You will prefer them over true fried potatoes!

Baked Oven Fries
adapted from Annie's Eats who adapted from cooks illustrated

3 russet potatoes (about 24 oz. total), peeled and cut lengthwise into even sized wedges
5 tbsp. vegetable, canola or peanut oil, divided
¾ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 475˚ F.  Place the potato wedges in a large mixing bowl.  Cover with hot  or cold water; soak for 10-30 minutes.  Put 4 tablespoons of the oil onto a heavy, rimmed baking sheet.  Coat the pan with oil.  Sprinkle the pan evenly with the salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Drain the potatoes.  Spread the wedges out on clean kitchen towels.  Pat dry with additional towels.  Wipe out the now empty bowl so it is dry.  Return the potatoes to the bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.  Arrange the potato wedges on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes.  Using a metal spatula and tongs, flip each potato wedge keeping them in a single layer.  Continue baking until the fries are golden and crisp, 5 -15 minutes.  Rotate the pan as needed to ensure even browning.

When the fries are finished baking, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain some of the grease.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm and quickly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gouda Mac and Cheese

Who doesn't love mac and cheese?   My husband's favorite cheese is gouda, and when my grocery store started carrying it shredded, I knew I had to adapt it.  This was another birthday dish.  This mac and cheese is very rich, very creamy, and the bread crumbs are so delicious.  The ground mustard adds to the sharpness of the cheese; it doesn't taste like mustard noticeably.

The original recipe calls for chicken broth, but I take issue with any vegetarian type recipe that adds meat surreptitiously, so I left it out.   You won't miss it, but it would be a good way to cut the fat if you want.  This is definitely a make ahead meal, but is very flexible to finishing in the oven on a pinch.

Gouda Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Annie's Eats

Yield: 8-10 servings
For the bread crumb topping:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and pepper

For the pasta:
1 lb. pasta shapes (I like conchigliate)
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dry mustard
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
5 3/4 cups milk
1 lb. gouda cheese, shredded
8 oz.cheddar & monterey jack cheese, shredded
Ground black pepper

To make the bread crumb topping, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add in the panko and cook, stirring frequently, until the bread crumbs are a light golden brown.  Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the pasta to the water and cook just until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Drain the pasta, then run under cold water, and leave in the colander.

Return the pot to the heat.  Melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Stir in the garlic, dry mustard, and cayenne, cooking just until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.  Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk and continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the cheeses, whisking until completely melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir the drained pasta into the cheese sauce.

Pour the pasta and cheese mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. (place in fridge for later at this point if desired)  Bake 30-35 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the bread crumbs are golden brown.

If refrigerated- bake covered at 400˚ F until the filling is hot throughout, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the breadcrumbs are crisp, 15-20 minutes more.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Yeasted Pumpkin No Rise Rolls

These taste much more pumpkin than the picture would lead you to believe!  They really require no rising time.  I took the awesome recipe for this bread from King Arthur Flour via Annie's Eats, then adapted it for a no rise version, and it's a great result.  Perfect for fall!

Pumpkin Yeast Rolls- No Rise

adapted from Annie's eats and Craftykin

1/4 cup warm water
3 tbsp. instant yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large eggs
3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
17 ounces cups bread flour (approximately 3 1/2 cups)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the warm water and yeast.  Add in the milk, eggs, pumpkin, oil, brown sugar, salt, and spices.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add 4 cups of the bread flour to the bowl and baking powder, and mix until a sticky dough has formed.  Switch to the dough hook.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the remaining flour until you have a dough that is smooth and elastic, and not sticky.
Divide into 8 pieces, form into rolls.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Bake the rolls for about 15 minutes.  Serve warm.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup

So the temp is going to the 40's tonight, and I have been hit by the fall bug.  I made this immediately after seeing Shawnda's post.  Fall is about pumpkin.  Today I made pumpkin yeast rolls, pumpkin pancakes, and this.

And that was just one can of pumpkin!!!  It's really delicious.  I can't wait for morning to have it again!

Adapted from Confessions of a foodie bride

For the pumpkin spice syrup:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cinnamon sticks or 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3 Tbsp canned pumpkin

To make the syrup: Heat sugar and water in a small pot over medium heat until the mixture is completely clear, or microwave for 2 minutes and stir until clear.
Whisk in the remaining ingredients off heat.
Allow mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Strain syrup through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a large jar or bottle.
Keep syrup in the fridge, for longer life.

Add to coffee for your own homemade pumpkin spice coffee!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cake Wreck- Heaven and Hell Cake.

I am fairly vain when it comes to my food.  If it's not pretty, I don't like to serve it.  However, I tasted crumbs of cake and peanut butter mousse on this puppy, AND stayed up until almost 1 am finishing it.  There was no way it wasn't getting served.  I served it next to a very adorable elmo rainbow cake, so really, it all evens out.

Let me explain how I wrecked.  The bottom chocolate layer broke.  I did not freeze the cake as directed.  Next time I make it, I will cover the pans with plastic wrap and tin foil and freeze them overnight, then assemble and ganache.  I'll also use room temperature or slightly warmer than that ganache.  They told me to let the ganache rest for 4 hours.  People, ignore them at your peril.

But really, none of that matters.  This cake wreck rocked.  And it's like people- it's the inside that counts.

Heaven and Hell Cake
Adapted from Saveur Via Whisk Kid

2 lbs. milk chocolate, such as Valrhona, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup vegetable shortening, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup coffee
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium-size bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan; pour cream over the chocolate and let sit to melt for 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, combine the chocolate and cream. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rest for 4 hours.
2. Make the angel food cake: Heat oven to 325°. Line bottom of 2 9" round cake pans with ungreased parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar and flour; set flour mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt with a handheld mixer on low speed until frothy. Increase mixer speed to medium, sprinkle in sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, and beat until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle half of the confectioners' sugar–flour mixture over egg whites; using a rubber spatula, fold until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 45–50 minutes. Transfer cake to a rack and let cool.
3. Make the devil's food cake: Heat oven to 350°. Grease 2 9" round cake pans with shortening and dust with flour to coat; shake out excess flour and set pan aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder; set flour mixture aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the coffee and cocoa powder until smooth; set coffee mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat the shortening, sugar, vanilla, and eggs with a handheld mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture and the coffee mixture to the bowl in 3 stages, beating to combine after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, 30–35 minutes; transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

4. Make the peanut butter mousse: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and confectioners' sugar with a handheld mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Put cream into a large bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture; set mousse aside in the refrigerator.

5. Assemble the cake: Using a serrated-blade knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place 1 layer of the devil's food cake on a cake stand and spread 1/3 of the peanut butter mousse over the top with a butter knife. Top mousse with a layer of the angel food cake and spread with half of the remaining mousse. Repeat with the remaining devil's food cake, mousse, and angel food cake. Wrap cake in plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours. Stir ganache until smooth and spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake with a butter knife. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours before slicing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Baked Ziti

It's pretty uncommon for there to be a casserole, never mind a pasta casserole, that is received warmly in my house by my better half.  But this got treated to seconds!   It was very easy to assemble, although there are some steps depending on whether you want to make your own tomato sauce or not.  

The turkey sausage lightens it somewhat in calories, but it's not exactly weight watchers fare.  It could easily be vegetarian, and also freezes very well.  A friend of mind recently lost her dad, and I gave her a cooler full of prepared meals.  This was in here, as well as chicken taquitos and grilled lemon chicken kebobs.   I pulled it out when my in laws were here, and it was perfect!  Fussing over a meal in advance is great.

Baked Ziti 
adapted from Cooks illustrated via Annies Eats

1 lb.  1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
Table salt
1 lb. ziti or rigatoni- use something with lines to hold sauce
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. turkey sweet Italian sausage
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream or whole milk
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, shredded

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Combine cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 minutes.  Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until no longer pink.  Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned.  Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.  

In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream.  Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, all of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella.  Stir to combine.  Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.

Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.  Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or pop it in the freezer at this point.

Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer.  Cool for 10-20 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil to doll it up.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

I'm not sure how much you know about the history of medicine, but back in the day, it was felt that disease could be attributed to evil humours infesting the body.

I'm pretty sure eggplant proves that evil humors exist.  
This is what you get after you salt eggplant and let it drain.  

I'm fairly certain if you were to salt Ted Bundy and put him in a colander over a bowl, you'd get the same results.

Anyway, traditional eggplant recipes require frying it in vats of oil, and then baking it.  Cooks Illustrated solves the tenderness/bitterness problem by 1/ peeling the eggplant 2/ salting the eggplant and letting it drain 3/ roasting it at high heat in a single layer.  The result?  Tender, traditional, healthier, and completely yum.     But kind of tough to pull off on a wednesday.  Thankfully, it freezes great and so can be popped in the oven with no issues.

Eggplant Parmesan
Adapted from cooks Illustrated the Best Light Recipe
2-3 medium globe eggplant
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
Egg whites (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cups parmesan cheese
42 oz tomato sauce (try 1 1/2 batch of my tomato sauce with butter and onion)

FOR THE EGGPLANT: Toss half of eggplant slices and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (kosher does not dissolve and so does not make it salty--- no table salt please)  in large bowl until combined; transfer salted eggplant to large colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and kosher salt, placing second batch in colander on top of first. Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on triple layer paper towels; cover with another triple layer paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.

While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions, place rimmed baking sheet on each rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees.

Put egg whites in a shallow bowl.  Dip eggplant in egg; Let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with bread crumb mixture; set breaded slices on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.  Spray tops of eggplant with cooking spray. Make sure to place  breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer

Bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes.

Layer eggplant, sauce, and cheese.  Freeze at this point for another night, or bake at 350 for one hour, (covered first 30 minutes, uncovered last 30 minutes).  Add thirty minutes to baking (majority covered) if baking from frozen.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DBCB Favorite Fudge Cake

You should read this adorable blog post from king arthur flour, in which they talk about being the designated birthday cake baker.  very cute.  But anyway, I am becoming that for my family, mostly because my sisters, who are excellent cooks, are somehow intimidated by frosting and cakes.  My brother does not bake.  He's a man.  He grills.

Anyway, this cake is the gateway cake for those intimidated by frosting.   Ganache is delicious and foolproof!!  I'm making this this weekend among others, and I think it might steal the show.  I'm tempted to add some caramel in between each of these layers as well.

Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake
adapted from King arthur flour

2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce) cornstarch
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water

12 ounces semisweet chocolate
6 ounces cream (light, whipping, or heavy)

8 ounces semisweet chocolate
4 ounces cream (light, whipping, or heavy)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour (or grease, then line with parchment, then grease again) two 8" x 2" round cake pans.  These pans need to be at least 2" tall; if you have non-standard, shorter 8" pans, substitute 9" round pans.

To make the cake: Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the water, beating until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for 35 to 38 minutes (a bit less if you use a 9" pan), or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn them out of the pans to cool completely on a rack.

To make the filling: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, and the chocolate very soft. Stir to melt the chocolate completely, reheating very briefly if necessary.

(you can add a flavoring to chocolate filling if you want with extract or liquer.)

Divide the cooled layers in half horizontally, to make four layers.  I suggest putting strips of wax paper under the edge of the cake to make it look neater! Place one layer on a serving plate, and spread with filling. Repeat with the next two layers. Top with the final cake layer.

To make the icing: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, and the chocolate very soft. Stir to melt the chocolate completely, reheating very briefly if necessary. Pour and spread the icing over the top of the cake, letting it drip over the edges and down the sides. Once it’s done dripping, you may smooth the sides with an icing spatula, if desired. Allow the cake to rest, covered with a cake cover till the chocolate is set; overnight is good, though several hours are sufficient.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Loaf

This was based on an Ina Garten recipe, so you know it has to be good.  My desire for this "bread" (cake- come on, who are we kidding) comes from this one restaurant somewhere in my life that served a lemon blueberry muffin, and I think baking this in muffin form would pretty much replicate that bit of breakfast tastiness for me.  It's a "high ratio" cake, which means there's almost as much sugar as flour, so it tends to be tender.

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan, or spray with baker's joy.  The cake if fairly tender, so if you skip this step be prepared for breakage.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 70 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, microwave the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan, or don;t and clean your counter afterwards. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush is nice, and use a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in). Cool.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chocolate Blueberry ice cream

I know what you're thinking.  I promise the blueberry is delicious!   I love Dorie Greenspan's description in this recipe- she talks about how she stopped dating a man who had chocolate ice cream on his blueberry pie.  Perfectly reasonable.  : )  

The blueberry somehow maintains it integrity while adding a depth of flavor to the chocolate ice cream part.  

Unbelievably Good Chocolate Blueberry Ice Cream

140g (5 oz) milk chocolate
250ml (1 cup) whole milk
125ml (½ cup) heavy cream
3 large egg yolk
3 tbsps sugar
5 tbsps blueberry preserves

Add chocolate to a 1-quart glass measuring cup.

Bring milk and cream to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until very well blended and just slightly thickened.

Still whisking, drizzle in about ⅓ of the hot liquid—this will twarm the yolks so they don’t curdle and become scrambled eggs.

Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid.

Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring non stop, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon.  If you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard should not run back into itself (this will be 170-179 degrees).

Remove pan from the heat and pour the custard over the chopped chocolate.

Let the mixture sit for 1 minute, then  stir until the custard is smooth.

Refrigerate the custard until chilled before churning it into ice cream.

Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker; churn according to manufacturer’s directions.

When the ice cream is thickened and just about ready, spoon in the blueberry preserves and churn to blend.

Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze it until it is firm enough to scoop.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Crash Hot Potatoes

These are work horse potatoes.  French fry reminescent, but healthi-er.  They go with just about anything, and I usually make them herb-less.  They are a P-Dub classic recipe!

Crash Hot potatoes
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

12 whole New Potatoes (or Other Small Round Potatoes)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt To Taste
Black Pepper To Taste
Rosemary or any herb you like

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender, about 20-25 minutes depending on size.

On a sheet pan,  drizzle olive oil with a heavy hand. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving room between each potato.

With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Aim for sticking up bits of potato that will get crispy.  Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.

Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary.

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.