Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Cake I Almost Made You for Your Birthday

This is a Praline Bundt Cake. The pecans are TASTY!! I had all the ingredients to make this for you when we came to City of Rocks, but it seemed like a lot of steps, and I didn't make it. But, it's good:) I am enjoying it now and thinking happy birthday thoughts for you!

1 c chopped pecans
1 c. butter, softened
1 (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 (16 oz) bag dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 (80z) sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
Praline icing
Sugared pecans

toast 1 c pecans . There are 2 ways to do this...the way the book tells you and the way I do it! 350 for 5-7 min in a single layer in the oven, or my way, single layer in the micro for 5-6 min, stirring every 2 min.

preheat oven to 325

beat butter and cream cheese together until creamy. Add brown sugar gradually, beating until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

sift flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in toasted pecans and vanilla. spoon into a greased and floured 12 c. bundt pan.

bake at 325 for 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes; remove from pan and cool for another 3o min.

prepare praline icing, spoon immediately over cake, sprinkle top with sugared pecans.

Praline Icing
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1/4 c milk
1 c powdered sugar, sifted (this gets out the lumps. I didn't do it and it looked lumpy)
1 tsp vanilla

bring first 3 ingredients to a boil over medium heat. boil, whisking constantly for 1 minute. remove from heat, whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir gently 3-5 minutes until it starts to thicken.

Sugared Pecans
1 egg white
4 c pecans
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/3 c light brown sugar

whisk egg white until foamy; add pecans and stir until evenly coated. (I only did 1 c pecans. you don't need 4 cups unless you want to eat them as snacks later. I cut down on the sugars) Stir together the sugars and sprinkle over the pecans. stir gently until they are evenly coated. Spread pecans in a single layer on a lightly greased foil lined jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 18-20 min or until the pecans are dried. stir once after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. store pecans in a ziploc for 3 days room temp or 3 weeks in the freezer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Brief Digression

I wrote a while ago about this blog also being about the home and garden as well as food. As for the garden part I don't have a lot to say b/c my garden is partially pathetic this year. Your bird net saved the lettuce and the 10 sugar snap peas I got this year. My string beans are simply pathetic- tough, stringy, weirdly large.... sigh. i miss fresh green beans. Anyway, the cucumbers are about to be fruitful and the tomatoes are still completely green and just hanging out. i have gotten a few black plum tomatoes- an heirloom variety i highly recommend. anyway, i wasn't going to talk about the garden.

Home: I just got home from Costco where I purchased a memory foam mattress topper. what do you think? I wasn't ready to spend the full amount on a whole mattress yet, but my body has been pretty achey during the nights since my surgery. i also bought memory foam pillows to see if i can ease the tightness in my neck at all. tonight will be the first night sleeping with both, and i'm so excited to go to bed!

Fresh Mozzerella is the key

this is another recipe from Orangette. It sounds like just a baked pasta recipe, but i think the fresh basil and mozzerella really make it something special.

2 (28 oz) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes
5 T unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion,peeled and halved
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
red wine vinegar
1 1/2 lb small ish pasta, such as orecchiette, chiocciole, rigatoni or ziti
1/4 to 1/3 lb parmesan cheese, grated
3 (4 oz) balls fresh mozzerella
fresh basil leaves

dump tomatoes and juices into large saucepan. add butter, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and couple pinches of salt. place over medium heat and cook stirring occasionally for 45 minutes (i fudged it to 30 minutes b/c otherwise dinner was going to be really late). remove and discard the onion halves. using an immersion blender-i want one of these!-(or a food processor) blend the sauce until mostly smooth. return it to saucepan and continue to simmer it over medium heat for another 45 (or 30 if you are me) minutes until it has thickened to the consistency of a usual tomato sauce. it's alright if it's a bit loose but you want it to have a least a little body. taste it for salt and acidity and if needed add a small splash of vinegar.

preheat oven to 400.

when sauce is almost ready cook pasta to al dente. drain well and toss with with half the tomato sauce and a handful of the parmesan. take out a large (at least 9x13 or 10x15) baking pan. put a layer of pasta in the pan, followed by some of the sauce, handful of parmesan, chunks of mozzerella, and a few torn basil leaves. repeat layers until all ingredients are gone, ending with a layer of cheese on top. bake for 15 minutes until warm and bubbling. then, broil the top for a minute or two until golden.

I now cook in French.

To continue my gourmet theme, i have tried something called Gribiche sauce. It is basically a fancy, french mayonnaise, and yet it is so much more. I know, i hate mayonnaise too so it's almost a sin to call this sauce 'mayo'. I found the recipe from a food blog i've followed called Orangette ( I really like the blog and decided to go out on a branch and try this sauce. I believe Orangette got this recipe from some place called Zuni's Cafe that published a cook book. so now i am passing it along to you. She recommends this sauce over grilled fish or poultry, fried seafood, roasted potatoes, boiled shrimp, asparagus, or boiled potatoes as a potato salad. We have had it over boiled fingerling potatoes (that i bought from the farmer's market last week- i'm so gourmet! :) ) and over grilled salmon. it has been fabulous both times!There's some still in the fridge that i plan to have over grilled chicken this week.

Use a very mild tasting olive oil. if your oil is bitter use a mixture of it and a more neutral tasting oil like canola.

2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 T sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 large egg
1 T dijon mustard
1 1/4 c mild tasting olive oil (i only used 1 c)
2 t thinly sliced chives
2 t finely choped parsley
2 t finely chopped chervil (i left this out, geez a girl can only buy so many fresh herbs!)
1/2 t chopped dill (i used dried)
2 T capers, rinsed and dried, coarsely chopped

Combine shallots and vinegar in small bowl, and set aside to macerate while you prepare the rest of the sauce.

Put the egg in a small saucepan of barely simmering water and bring it to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for about 4 minutes, drain and put egg in a bowl of ice water to cool completely. you are basically soft boiling an egg here

when egg is cool crack and scrape it into medium bowl. add mustard, pinch or two of salt. mash it all together and then begin whisking in the oil, just a few drops at first, then gradually increasing the flow to a thin stream. stop adding oil when the mixture is satiny and has lots of body- like a hot fudge sauce. Stir in the herbs and capers. add the vinegar and shallots, adjust salt to taste.

garden fresh beets!

I like a saucey pizza...

I know we have a lot of recipes for pizza sauces. But i think i just found the all-time favorite. this is super easy to do, doesn't require any heating, and Eric will usually whip it together while I'm making the dough. Even better.

New York Style Pizza Sauce
Cooking Light

This makes enough for 2 pizzas:

7 T water
2 T chopped fresh bail
1 1/2 T olive oil
2 t dried oregano
1 1/2 t sugar (or maybe honey, i haven't tried that yet)
1 t minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can petite-cut diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste

combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. stir with a whisk.

*I think i have finally discovered why my pizza dough/crust sometimes sticks to the bottom of the pan/cooking stone. I think i use too much sauce! Even with using a pampered chef stone, when i first did this recipe i used the entire amount of sauce on one pizza crust. The crust stuck, much to my disappointment. Next time I only used half the recipe of sauce and froze the other half. the pizza turned out great. problem solved.

Wait for it, Wait for it

These brownies took me part of an entire afternoon to make and when I saw the recipe in the magazine I knew it would come to that. However, the picture of the finished product was so amazing I decided I really did have to go for it. I may also have been affected by the fact that I was working a night shift and happened upon the picture/recipe at about 3 AM. At that time of the morning most over-the-top rich, delectable, strongly-flavored things sound good. And I also figured, what else am I spending my time doing these days, really? This is the perfect time to be spending copious amounts of time trying new recipes. So, be prepared for some gourmet recipes to be coming from my kitchen. These Brownies take a long, long time, but my-oh-my are they worth it!
I am missing the best picture- the final product! I'll try to get one up. Otherwise you can find it at if you search the brownie name.

Layered Brownies with White-chocolate caramel and bittersweet chocolate Ganache
from Bon Appetit

Candied Pecans
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c water
1 c pecans halves, toasted

1/2 c unsalted butter
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 c plus 1 tsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 T flour
1/8 t salt
1/2 c plus 1 T sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla

White chocolate Caramel
3 T water, divided
3/4 t unflavored gelatin
4 1/2 T sugar
pinch salt
6 T heavy whipping cream
4 oz white chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 T unsalted butter, diced, room temp

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
2/3 c heavy whipping cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8x8x2 metal baking pan

Candied Pecans: Lightly butter baking sheet. Stir sugar and 1/4 water in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until sugar syrup is light golden, occasionally brushing down sides of skillet with wet pastry brush, about 8 minutes. Add pecans and stir until syrup coats pecans, about 1 minute. Immediately pour pecans out onto prepared baking sheet. spread in single layer with heatproof spatula. cool completely. coarsely chop nuts.

Brownies: Preheat oven to 350. Line 8x8x2 metal baking pan with foil. butter foil. combine 1/2 c butter and bittersweet chocolate in heavy medium saucepan. stir over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. remove from heat. cool slightly. whisk cocoa powder, flour, and salt in small bowl. Whisk sugar, eggs, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. Pour butter mixture into sugar mixture. whisk until blended. Add cocoa mixture, whisk until blended. Transfer brownie batter to prepared baking pan. smooth top (layer will be thin).
Bake brownie until tester comes out with moist crumbs attached, 18-20 minutes. Allow brownie to cool slightly, then gently press down on edges to form flat, even layer. cool completely in pan on rack.

White chocolate Caramel: Spoon 1 T water into small bowl. sprinkle gelatin over and stir to blend. let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 T water, sugar and pinch of salt in heavy small saucepan. stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. increase heat and boil until syrup is deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 8 minutes. Slowly add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously) reduce heat to low. stir to dissolve any caramel bits. remove from heat. let cool 5 minutes. aded gelatin mixture. stir until gelatin dissolves. add white chocolate. whisk until melted and smooth. whisk in butter. pour caramel atop cooled brownie. spread evenly to cover completely. chill uncovered until caramel firms slightly, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Waiting for that deep amber color that never came. I stirred and stirred and finally just decided to go with what I had. Now the brownies have a milky white middle layer instead of a caramel colored layer. Oh well, it still tastes good.

Bittersweet Ganache: Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan. Remove from heat. add chocolate. Whisk until melted and smooth. cool until mixture is slightly theckened but still pourable, about 15 minutes. pour ganache atop caramel on brownie, spread just to edges. sprinkle chopped candied pecans evenly over. chill uncovered until ganache is firm enough to cut, about 4 hours.

Using foil as aid, lift brownie out of pan. place on work surface. foild foil sides down. using sharp knife trim off about 1/4 inch of brownie on all sides. cut brownie into 8 bars.

This is what happened after i was all finished!

Monday, August 17, 2009

jelly filled donuts

So, here's the pic of the jelly filled donuts I made. I'm not posting the recipe bc you probably wouldn't make them. Anyway, just google jelly filled donuts if you want to some day. I added the sprinkles, of course!

Molasses-Oat Bread

1 cup uncooked regular oats
2 cups boiling water
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 1/2 tsp salt
6 to 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I use 4 cups fresh ground wheat flour and 2 1/2 bread flour)
1 large egg
2 Tbsp uncooked regular oats

Combine 1 cup oats and boiling water. Stirring well. let stand 20 minutes or until mixture reaches 115
Combine yeast and 1/3 cup warm water; let stand 5 minutes
Combine yeast, oats mixture, molasses, and next 3 ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mixing well. Add 2 cups flour, and stir until smooth. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
turn dough out onto a well floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts, 45 min or until double.
punch dough down. and divide in half ; roll 1 portion into a 14x7 inch rectangle. roll up dough, starting at narrow end, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch to seal ends. place dough, seam side down, in a well greased 9x5 loafpan. brush loaves with beaten egg, and sprinkle with remaining oats. cover and let rise in a warm place 45 min or until double in bulk.
bake 350 for 30-35 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. remove from pans immediately; cool on wire racks.